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A new trio led by bassist Paul Rogers pays homage to the great Charlie Mingus in a set of gripping, expansive takes on some of Mingus's best known compositions. Charles Mingus needs no introduction. His influence is inescapable. Though there have been many tributes to the man, most have concentrated on reframing and rearranging his compositions or attempting more straight ahead homages. Whahay is a different proposition. Bassist Paul Rogers, saxophonist Robin Fincker and drummer Fabien Duscombs take nine of the best known Mingus tunes and use them as a springboards for a kaleidoscopic, freewheeling set of improvisations. You've probably never heard Mingus tunes played quite like this. The opening 'Better Git In Your Soul' has Rogers doubling the melody line with the bow, alongside Financier's sprightly clarinet and skittish drums. As Fincker reaches for the tenor, Rogers switches to pizzicato, joining Duscombs in providing a fractured but foppish undertow that hints at swing but never quite gets there. Fincker's thoughtful dissection of the melodic line is occasionally reminiscent of Wayne Shorter. There's a clarity to his playing as well as emotional engagement, even when things get heated. A hushed, almost ambient take on 'Ecclusiastics' opens with Rogers demonstrating the range of his specially constructed bass. Equipped with 7 principal strings and a large number of sympathetic resonating strings, it can wander easily into territory usually occupied by cello or even viola. The resonating strings give the instrument a spectral, folky quality when required, but it's still able to provide a sweetly propulsive throb from its bottom end. This is showcased effectively in Rogers' beautifully dirty intro to 'Jump Monk'. Switching through a variety of tempi and into entirely free and solo passages, this is the tune that probably gets closest to actually sounding something like a Mingus arrangement, and it's a genuinely thrilling, tightly executed performance. Rogers' solo here is close to breathtaking; nimble, muscular, bluesy and concise. 'Canon' is essentially a feature for Duscombs, whose playing throughout is precise, inventive and responsive. Beginning solo, he gradually ramps up the dynamic as Rogers and Fincker generate mournful drones before slipping into the piece's dolorous cascading melody. The meters are nudged into the red with 'Pithecanthropus Erectus' as tenor, bass and drums slug it out in a take no prisoners fashion, finally stopping on a dime after Fincker states the melody over the shifting, boiling chaos generated by Rogers and Duscombs. At the other end of the scale 'Reincarnation of A Lovebird' takes us into classic European free improv territory after a nicely elastic reading of the theme from bowed bass and tenor. It's really not what you'd expect, but it works. 'Bird Call' ups the energy level again in a short but sweet eruption, before Rogers takes centre stage again for 'Work Song' with a thrillingly noisy solo exposition for bowed bass. Duscombs and Fincker sidle in for the closing minutes, opting in and out of the melody before dismantling it entirely. Finally Fincker is back on clarinet for the closing 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat', Mingus's ballad for Lester Young. Rogers' solo that opens this is again proof that he's up there with any other bassist you care to name in terms of his technical ability and more importantly, his ability to communicate emotions and ideas. Three extraordinary contemporary musicians interpret the work of an extraordinary past master with passion and imagination. Whahay!


  1. Name
  2. Better Git In Your Soul
  3. Ecclusiastics
  4. Jump Monk
  5. Canon
  6. Pithecantropus Erectus
  7. Reincarnation of a Lovebird
  8. Bird Call
  9. Work Song
  10. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
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