Various Artists: Weird Nightmare; Meditations on Mingus (Sony)

 |   |  1 min read

Bill Frisell, Gary Lucas, Greg Cohen and others: Jump Monk
Various Artists: Weird Nightmare; Meditations on Mingus (Sony)

Arranger Hal Willner has put together some exciting, fascinating, irritating collaborations in the past on his tributes to Walt Disney music, Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill and Fellini soundtrack man Nino Rota.

But this one for jazz composer/bassist Charles Mingus is a bit different.

Previously Willner would put together people such as rock guitarists Chris Spedding and Peter Frampton on Monk's Work or give Mack the Knife to Sting. A curve ball - and always of interest.

This time the instruments (in some cases) have determined the music. And there is an in-house band (white-knuckled and stunning needless to say).

Willner was offered a cache of oddball clang-type instruments made by eccentric composer Harry Partch (Tom Waits buffs, sit up straight now). So there's a weird, pervading percussive feel here.

As always, there’s a vibrant kaleidoscope of musical colours on the spinning wheel as Elvis Costello (with guitarists Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell) redefines the title track, Living Colour's Vernon Reid rearranges Work Song as a percussive Art Ensemble/Afro/free late-Seventies piece or Chuck D chants down some Mingus words.

Robbie Robertson and Henry Rollins deliver appropriately spooky and complete-Kerouac readings respectively, and Diamanda Galas reminds us again on Eclipse (with a reading by Leonard Cohen) what a really high, piercing voice sounds like.(Piercing, actually.)

Weird Nightmare is another odd, fascinating Willner collection. And Mingus fans will perhaps feel this is closer to the grumpy, unconventional musician they love than Joni Mitchell's no doubt genuine, but light and studied Mingus album shortly after his death in ’79.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

To my horror recently, I realised it had been almost a quarter of a century since I first interviewed the LA-based expat jazz pianist Alan Broadbent. It was 1984 and he was briefly back in Auckland... > Read more

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

In early January 1939 Alfred Lion – a 30-year old emigre from Berlin who had moved permanently to New York just two years previous – took the boogie-woogie pianists Meade Lux Lewis... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Guns N’Roses Greatest Hits

THE BARGAIN BUY: Guns N’Roses Greatest Hits

As rock and pop culture goes about celebrating anniversaries (and the inevitable expanded edition reissued albums) here’s one to consider: it was 30 years ago when Guns N’ Roses... > Read more

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Out of a Clear Blue Sky

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Out of a Clear Blue Sky

Kevin Saatchi, CEO of the New York-based advertising and media company RobertsAndRoberts, said yesterday he was excited about his company being offered the contract to re-brand New Zealand for the... > Read more