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

BEN WEBSTER AND ART TATUM CONSIDERED (2008): Genius loves company

BEN WEBSTER AND ART TATUM CONSIDERED (2008): Genius loves company

 In my experience, jazz people tend to live in the past. Radio programmes are more often about the greats of yesteryear than the living, jazz mags essay Ellington over ECM, and in any given... > Read more

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM/Ode)

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM/Ode)

As mentioned in a review of one his earlier albums, The Door (here), Norwegian trumpeter Eick has an inclusive approach to his art and has played in many different contexts, from big bands to... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE APRA SILVER SCROLL FINALISTS 2018: The shortlist of long talents

THE APRA SILVER SCROLL FINALISTS 2018: The shortlist of long talents

Since 1965 the APRA Silver Scroll has been awarded to writer(s) of the year's best song, as voted on by fellow songwriters. So the award can go to a great song, regardless of how few or how... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JANDEK: Stranger in an even stranger land

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JANDEK: Stranger in an even stranger land

In his very interesting 2001 book about cult figures and outsider musicians Songs in the Key of Z, Irwin Chusid had chapters on some figures (Wild Man Fischer, Syd Barrett, Florence Foster Jenkins,... > Read more