The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady  Often Seethes, Yet Has Sweet and Tender Moments

The always defiant, sometimes bitter and often angry Charles Mingus had a habit of declaring more than a few of his records as his best, including this one. He might be correct about The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady recorded January, 1963, though Tijuana Moods and several others are definitely in the running.

Mingus is clearly the righteous “Black Saint” and the turbulent music often seethes with turmoil and deep seated and fully justified racial discrimination-based resentment.

If the opening track to this almost 40 minute long ambitious composition is more musical discord than you can immediately absorb, and you want to hear Mingus in a musically contemplative mood, delivering exquisite harmonic colors start with “Track B—Duet Solo Dancers (Hearts’ Beat and Shades in Physical Embraces)".

Mingus’s Ellington admiration shines through aided by his brass-rich orchestration for two trumpets, trombone, tuba, soprano, tenor and baritone sax and two flutes plus alto sax, pianos, guitar and drums. “Perhaps it may sound conceited to point out on my own liner notes what I know I have contributed”, indeed! Mingus’s psychiatrist contributed liner notes in what must be a first and last.

The best way to think of this Bob Simpson engineered recording is as an RCA “Living Stereo” packed in orange and black Impulse clothing. The sonics are sensationally transparent, with the ensemble spread across a wide soundstage. Though the emphasis is on hard left and right, as was the style back then the middle isn’t an empty space. Jay Berliner’s Flamenco-style guitar appears there transparently and with pristine transient articulation.

A comparison between this reissue and an original Impulse produced a sonic draw with each having its own attractive qualities—warmer original versus more transparent reissue— but the reissue is pressed on far quieter vinyl and given a choice I’d take the reissue. Musical and sonic fireworks well worth getting.

Music Direct Buy It Now

Paul Boudreau's picture

I just got this reissue and am looking forward to listening to it. I wouldn’t mind a similar reissue of “Blues & Roots.”

Kevinh's picture

I pounced on this as soon as I read your review Michael. Thanks for the great information and recommendation. Also picked up the Ella Fitzgerald you recommended - another great shout! Thank you!!!

Jazz listener's picture

Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus

clarets's picture