Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)

Charles Mingus’ “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” is a masterful album that showcases his exceptional talent as a composer, bandleader, and bassist. Released in 1963, the album is widely regarded as one of Mingus’ finest works and a landmark in the history of jazz.

The album is a four-part suite that tells the story of a man’s journey from sin to redemption, with each movement exploring different emotions and moods. Mingus’ writing is incredibly complex, with multiple layers of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms interweaving to create a rich and intricate tapestry of sound.

Here’s a track listing of the album:

“Track A – Solo Dancer” – 6:40
“Track B – Duet Solo Dancers” – 6:45
“Track C – Group Dancers” – 7:22
“Mode D – Trio and Group Dancers” – 6:47
“Mode E – Single Solos and Group Dance” – 6:31
“Mode F – Group and Solo Dance” – 4:24
“Track A – Solo Dancer” begins with a haunting melody played by the horns, which is then joined by Mingus’ bass and drums. The piece builds in intensity, with Mingus’ bass playing a prominent role throughout.

“Track B – Duet Solo Dancers” features a duet between two saxophonists, with Mingus’ bass and drums providing a rhythmic foundation. The piece is characterized by its complex harmonies and shifting rhythms.

“Track C – Group Dancers” is a high-energy piece that features the entire ensemble playing together. Mingus’ bass provides a driving pulse, while the horns and piano play intricate melodies.

“Mode D – Trio and Group Dancers” begins with a trio of trumpet, piano, and drums, before the rest of the ensemble joins in. The piece features a series of call-and-response passages between the horns and the rhythm section.

“Mode E – Single Solos and Group Dance” is a more introspective piece, with each member of the ensemble taking a solo turn. Mingus’ bass is once again a prominent presence, providing a counterpoint to the melodic lines of the horns.

“Mode F – Group and Solo Dance” is the final movement of the suite, and it brings together many of the themes and motifs from the previous movements. The piece builds to a dramatic climax before ending on a quiet note.

Overall, “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” is a stunning achievement that showcases Mingus’ exceptional talent as a composer, bandleader, and bassist. It’s an album that rewards repeated listening, with its intricate harmonies, shifting rhythms, and emotional depth.


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