Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Full Album) – YouTube

This is some deep blues couched in some very sophisticated forms and counterpoint lines. The bari sax, in particular, cries while the low brass moans through their mutes and the rhythm section churns underneath. I would love to see the scores for this album, especially the first tune. I’d like to see how the bitonal moments are scored out. The counterpoint is at times so dense it feels improvised, but several horns playing the same polyphonic lines? Genius, really – Mingus is able to compose lines that sound like improvisation.

This is why I am so reticent to point out how much of a Euro-style composer he was; bringing that discourse into a discussion of his music invariably turns into a Gunther Schuller-like backhanded compliment (Schuller suggested that Mingus was a composer composer because he was familiar with Stravinsky’s compositional technique)1)in the documentary Triumph of the Underdog. Mingus was a great composer no matter where he got his technique or earned his craft. No matter where he got it all together, the blues always come through and overwhelm.

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1. in the documentary Triumph of the Underdog

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I am a musician and academic living in Western, Massachusetts. I blog mostly about music, though I include the odd post about political or historical events that pique my interest.

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