The man is gone, his music lives on. We Music Fans hear that a lot, and sometimes it’s the guys what hold the copyrights that’re splish splash raking in the cash. Not in the case of the Mingus Dynasty, though. While the late Charles Mingus was a famous (infamous at times) figure in American music, he was hardly a million-seller. But like all the Big Cats (famous and lesser-known), The Man has his acolytes, those who want to keep the fires burning, not letting accomplishments be merely recorded history, but living history.
The members of this edition of the ever-morphing Dynasty band includes mostly fellows who’ve played in Mingus’ bands, endured his tongue-lashings and been motivated and/or transformed by his resolve and compositional acumen. While Chair.... doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of Mingus at his best - how could it? - it does come awfully close. Don Pullen is volcanic, and sax-ers Handy (tart & cool) and Farrell (hearty, so underrated). This septet achieves an engaging, rousing balance between CM the brilliant composer ("Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat," the noir-ish tribute to Lester Young; "My Jelly Roll Soul" tips its hat to jazz’s roots, as well as parodying Hollywood movie music) and Mingus the boisterous bandleader that gets the band to good-times-roll WAILING ("The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines"). If you’re a Mingus fan, you’ll have to have this - if you’re looking to get a taste from the well and don’t know which CM disc to start with, Chair is a dandy introduction. (Everybody wins!)