A fine "best of" collection drawn from the Mingus Big Band's five-disc output since 1993. The disc captures the flow and live energy of the band's regular Thursday-night gig at Fez Under Time Café in New York. The highlights are many: Ronnie Cuber's baritone sax work on "Moanin'" and his touching narration on "Nostalgia in Times Square"; Kenny Drew, Jr.'s Eastern-tinged piano intro and monster solo on "Boogie Stop Shuffle"; Seamus Blake's tenor showcase on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"; the list goes on. Much has been written about the ability of this enterprise, under the direction of Sue Mingus, the legendary composer's widow, to transcend the "ghost band" category and capture the true spirit of Charles Mingus. The reports are true, and The Essential Mingus Big Band is an elegant and concise summation of the band's achievements thus far.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler