Charles Mingus

Stormy & Funky Blues

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Stormy & Funky Blues is a kind of mishmash collection of some late live recordings by three Mingus-led small bands. It's listed by Sue Mingus, the late composer's wife, as one of many bootleg albums that the Mingus estate encourages fans not to buy, so the listener may wish to consider this request. Then again, it's likely the only time that someone (Roy Brooks here) performed a musical saw solo on a Mingus session. The piece called "Angry Reeds" is actually "Flowers for a Lady" from Mingus Moves and composed by George Adams, not Mingus as credited on the disc, but, aside from the shabby labeling, it's actually a stronger performance than the official version, taken at a faster tempo and featuring a stratospheric tenor solo from Adams. Similarly, "Squeezed Strings" is actually "Opus 3," also from Mingus Moves, but also, arguably, a more inspired reading than the original with baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett is fine form. The title track is the sort of loose blues that the band with Adams and Pullen played regularly, with the former on strangulated vocals not far from his "Devil Woman" on other recordings. Most interesting is the version of "Cumbia and Jazz Fusion," here scaled down to a quintet arrangement without, among other things, the layers of percussion on the authorized recording. This barebones approach gives the composition even more strength and spine and also contains some wonderful solo work by trumpeter Jack Walrath, but just as the piece is warming up, the tape suddenly ends. The sound quality is hit and miss and the audience applause is often irritatingly loud. For fans, it's a valuable document of late period Mingus, but the buyer will have to make the decision on the appropriateness of purchasing a product whose proceeds will not benefit Mingus' heirs and family at all.

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