As I chose this list, I allotted ten slots for my son to select any albums he felt were somehow missing from the collection. With a set of musical tastes different and diverse to mine, I believe he set out to challenge me and make sure I was listening to new sounds I had not yet contemplated along the way. That is most certainly the case with my first “Z” selection, “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady” by jazz composer, pianist and bassist Charles Mingus.
Although a bit surprised after researching this selection that it didn’t crack the Top 10 Jazz albums list that I inserted, this highly regarded four song album is all original work, composed as a collective four piece performance by Mingus. Charles Mingus walked in the same hallways and performed on the same stages as legends like Charlie Parker. However, he distinguished himself with his relative calm and collected state personally, and his diverse multicultural background helped fuel a very different and notably more progressive sound than any jazz album I have listened to so far. My favorite piece of this four-part album is the second song, “Track B – Duete Solo Dancers”. Downbeat and at times even a bit ominous in its sound, I almost feel as I am being stalked late at night as the music slows then methodically picks up urgency as the chase begins.
I will acknowledge I listened to this album with curiosity, trepidation, and discovery, with a mild twist of confusion. I don’t know if the intent was to soothe, jar and disrupt the listener all at once, but that is certainly my cycle of reception to Mingus. The musicianship is outstanding, and the sound and recording quality builds upon any of the previous jazz pieces, particularly the solo piano at the beginning of “Track C – Group Dancers”. I appreciate placing this jazz classic alongside the emerging popular sounds of the day to understand the breadth and variety of music coming forward quickly.