Charles Mingus and company conjured magic on 20th January 1963. The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady is a composed piece spread over six parts, with occasional blasts of full-ensemble free improvisation. Still sounds mind-blowing all these years later - a true original at the intersection of jazz and folk.

Staff note from Daoud :
Charles Mingus and company conjured magic on 20th January 1963. The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady is a composed piece spread over six parts, with occasional blasts of full-ensemble free improvisation. Still sounds mind-blowing all these years later - a true original at the intersection of jazz and folk.

Vinyl LP £19.99 7757373

Reissue LP on Impulse!.

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REVIEWS

The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus
3 reviews. Write a review for us »
9/10 Will 21 August 2019

Widely regarded as one of Charles Mingus' greatest albums, 'The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady' is an unsettling foray into what Mingus himself called 'ethnic folk-dance music'. Perhaps the use of the word 'foray' is wrong as it implies insubstantiality, and 'The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady' is anything but insubstantial. Consider it a consummate identification and interrogation of various forms found in jazz. The album consists of one forty-minute piece split into four tracks and six movements, and goes by faster than a 45. 

Mingus wrote this piece partly as a ballet and you can hear that 'Black Saint' was written with the theatre in mind, as it ricochets from mood to mood to mood. There's the pretty, meandering melodic excursions on 'Solo Dancer', the tuba skronk in 'Duet Solo Dancers' that smacks of a villain striding onto stage to a chorus to boos, there are ominous free jazz squawks and squalls, huge, bombastic middle eights, and smoother, more trad. jazz passages.

This album is like a history of jazz from bebop to free jazz to modal jazz to big band. It speeds up to a breakneck rattle and slows down to a mean, moody trudge. There are strange experimental passages in 'Duet Slow Dancers' that sound like farm animals being annoyed and heartbreaking elongated solo piano parts that entirely reframe the music of 'Group Dancers'. There are moments that will make you stop dead in sheer surprise such as the Spanish guitar interlude that careers in on 'Group Dancers' or the way that each arrangement can jump from two instruments to eleven instruments and back to two instruments in the space of a minute. 

'The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady' is an encyclopaedic, wikipedic, theatrical, humane album that might just make you re-evaluate everything you think about jazz.


9/10 Jack 17th February 2015

Heralded by many as Charles Mingus' masterwork, "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" stands as one of his most powerful and difficult compositions. Recorded during his brief tenure on Impulse! (1963, during which Mingus turned out three of his best works), "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" is a suite for a ballet, perhaps a representation of the tortured psyche of the composer. It is dark, haunting, and probably the most difficult work Mingus has ever done-- drawing as much from contemporary classical and the avant-garde (in both classical and jazz) as it does from jazz tradition (a healthy dose of Ellington, certainly) with an overt flamenco influence, the album sounds quite like nothing else Mingus has done.


9/10 Hi-Life Customer rating (no review), 2nd January 2017



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