There aren’t all that many fascinating tributes around being made to the great Charles Mingus, so when Canadian bassist Normand Guilbeault decides to record Mingus Erectus, there is only reason for celebration. Gathering an all-star [Quebec-based] cast, he tramples on competition to give us a heart-felt homage to the late great master of the bass. Sometimes you don’t have to stretch or be on a mission to prove something in order to come up with a great recording. Playing it straight can be an adventure in itself.
All the pieces here don’t sound all too different from their original selves. Jean Derome’s saxophone playing is joyful as ever, rising to the occasion at all the right moments. Trumpet playing courtesy of Ivanhoe Jolicoeur is riveting as he scales those high notes and blows them sky high.
Finally, the bass playing of Normand Guilbeault himself is driven, precise, but too often it just falls a little flat. There are moments when I don’t quite hear the bass as high up in the mix as it should be. But then again, this is a technical aspect of the record. Let’s face it; you can’t really recreate the music that Mingus made. You can only bring your own two cents into the pot, and for now Mingus Erectus is as good an homage as you’re likely to hear.