TAS Super LP List! Special Merit: Informal
Michael Fremer Rated 10/11 Music, 10/11 Sonics!
There's nothing else in jazz quite like this collection recorded - astonishingly - in just one session on January 20, 1963. The album uses ornate ensemble orchestration to produce a sound somewhere between jazz and folk.
Seeking to offer definitive audiophile grade versions of some of the most historic and best jazz records ever recorded, Verve Label Group and Universal Music Enterprises' audiophile Acoustic Sounds vinyl reissue series utilizes the skills of top mastering engineers and the unsurpassed production craft of Quality Record Pressings. All titles are mastered from the original analog tapes, pressed on 180-gram vinyl and packaged by Stoughton Printing Co. in high-quality gatefold sleeves with tip-on jackets.
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is one of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history. Charles Mingus consciously designed the six-part ballet as his magnum opus, and - implied in his famous inclusion of liner notes by his psychologist - it's as much an examination of his own tortured psyche as it is a conceptual piece about love and struggle. It veers between so many emotions that it defies easy encapsulation; for that matter, it can be difficult just to assimilate in the first place. Yet the work soon reveals itself as a masterpiece of rich, multi-layered texture and swirling tonal colors, manipulated with a painter's attention to detail... one of the high-water marks for avant-garde jazz in the '60s and arguably Mingus' most brilliant moment.
A wholly absorbing listen revivified by this spectacular remaster and a crystal clear vinyl pressing that should be part of any serious vinyl collector's library.
The best way to think of this Bob Simpson engineered recording is as an RCA 'Living Stereo' packed in orange and black Impulse clothing. The sonics are sensationally transparent, with the ensemble spread across a wide soundstage. Though the emphasis is on hard left and right, as was the style back then the middle isn't an empty space. Jay Berliner's Flamenco-style guitar appears there transparently and with pristine transient articulation. A comparison between this reissue and an original Impulse produced a sonic draw with each having its own attractive qualities - warmer original versus more transparent reissue - but the reissue is pressed on far quieter vinyl and given a choice I'd take the reissue. Musical and sonic fireworks well worth getting.
- Acoustic Sounds Series reissue from Verve/Universal Music Enterprises
- 180g Vinyl LP
- Mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound From Original Analog Tapes
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
- Stoughton Printing gatefold old-style tip-on jacket
|Charles Mingus||double bass, piano|
|Jerome Richardson||soprano & baritone saxophone, flute|
|Charlie Mariano||alto saxophone|
|Dick Hafer||tenor saxophone, flute|
|Don Butterfield||tuba, contrabass trombone|
|Jay Berliner||classical guitar|
- Solo Dancer (Stop! And Listen, Sinner Jim Whitney!)
- Duet Solo Dancers (Heart's Beat And Shades In Physical Embraces)
- Group Dancers ([Soul Fusion] Freewoman And Oh This Freedom's Slave Cries)
- Trio And Group Dancers (Stop! Look! And Sing Songs Of Revolutions!)
- Single Solos And Group Dance (Saint And Sinner Join In Merriment On Battle Front)
- Group And Solo Dance (Of Love, Pain, And Passioned Revolt, Then Farewell, My Beloved, 'Til It's Freedom Day)