Charles Mingus: Ecclusiastics




Charles Mingus Sextet


Oh Yeah! (Rhino/Atlantic R2 75589)

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Charles Mingus (bass), Jimmy Knepper (trombone), Rahsaan Roland Kirk (tenor sax, manzello, stritch), Booker Ervin (tenor sax), Doug Watkins (bass), Dannie Richmond (drums).

Composed by Charles Mingus


Recorded: New York, NY; November 6, 1961


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Kirk’s tenure with Mingus lasted only a few months, but the relationship was sympathetic and yielded a classic recording in “Ecclusiastics.” The title, strictly speaking, lacks a definition, but it looks like a word that means “priests,” only tweaked, and that’s how the piece sounds—sacred but unhinged. Mingus leads from the piano, his vocals guiding the band through the episodic structure, from contrite confession to affirming exhortation, and finally, ecstatic wail. The climactic passages of Kirk’s triumphant solo feature him playing three horns at once, and his improvisation has a rare inevitability—you memorize it like a pop melody. Impossible to imagine it played any other way.

Reviewer: Joe Petrucelli

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