Mingus Big Band

Gunslinging Bird

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The Mingus Big Band had been together four years when they recorded this set while on a European tour. The musicians had mastered the great bassist's music, resulting in versions of a variety of Mingus classics that rank with the originals. The largely all-star 15-piece band includes such names as trumpeters Randy Brecker, Phillip Harper and Ryan Kisor, trombonist Frank Lacy, baritonist Gary Smulyan, tenor saxophonists Craig Handy, John Stubblefield, and Chris Potter, and pianist Kenny Drew, Jr. Each of the nine performances are exciting, both in the overcrowded ensembles and the solo statements, with the highlights including "Reincarnation of a Lovebird," "Fables of Faubus" (featuring Harper and altoist Steve Slagle), an explosive "Hog Callin' Blues" (showcasing John Stubblefield's highly expressive tenor), and "Started Medley" (based on "I Can't Get Started"). One can understand, listening to this single disc, why the Mingus Big Band began winning polls as jazz's top orchestra shortly afterwards.

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