Canadian bassplayer and composer Norman Guilbeault offers an album of seven compositions by Charles Mingus. With his ensemble he already works some 15 years on the repertoire of this jazzlegend. His ensemble is a quintet consisting of the following musicians: Jean Derome (saxophones, flute), Ivanhoe Jolicoeur (trumpet, flugelhorn ), Mathieu Bélanger (clarinet), Claude Lavergne (drums, voice) and Guilbeault himself on doublebass and voice. All of them are top-players and feel very happy in the universe of Mingus as this CD shows.
Earlier albums of this ensemble often contain one or two Mingus-compositions. In 1995 Guilbeault released his first album completely devoted to Charles Mingus and now he compiled another album of works by this famous bassplayer and play a few standards like Pithecanthropus Erectus and Moanin, but also some lesser known works, such as All the things you could be by now if Sigmund Freud’s wife was your mother and Conversation. Jean Derome contributes also with a composition on this album called MDMD.
I’m not a dedicated listener of the jazz classics of Ellington, Parker, Mingus or any other. I do feel some affinity with the work of Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, but in the end I must say jazz its not my thing. On the other hand I enjoy listening to - often European - free improvised music. So it’s from this perspective that I’m listening now to Mingus Erectus. I can’t judge whether this quintet stays close to the original and merely copies them, or whether they reinvent the compositions. I’m always a little suspicious when musicians play old jazz standards, as jazz is the art of improvising, which implies not merely repeating music from the past. But the marvelous playing of this quintet is tempting. Its done with soul and great energy. And this makes me forget the discussion I was just pointing at. For the piece Fable of (George Dubya) Faubus the lyrics have been changed and seem to concern president Bush, another sign of their up to date approach. All in all this is a very inspired live recording from 2004.