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OH YEAH by Charles Mingus

People say that I'm hollering. Charles Mingus once said. "Man, I feel like hollering." He always had passion, but rarely like this: seated at the piano, Mingus gold wild, ripping the blues with spontaneous power. He's credited with "vocals", but (except for "Devil Woman") there are no lyrics - only hollers.

His keyboard stance is percussive, a little like Monk with flashes of grace. The horn line is one of Charles' best; Booker Ervin surges but the star is Rahsaan, tooting his many horns with wild abandon. "Hog Callin'" is a fevered call-and-response, a device used throughout. ("Ecclusiastics" could almost be gospel, brass band flourishes and shouts from the leader.) Then a funeral band passes by: "Atomic Bomb" mourns slow, and the air is riddled with screams. Chazz rolls the old blues while Kirk mans the air-raid siren - it's a blast. "Passions" is an odd experiment, like the stuff he planned for the movie Shadows. On a chaotic background (plucked piano strings, jungle drums) Mingus plays the tribal chief, peppering his speech with English words. ("America" is one - and "atomic bomb"!) Wild, yes - and terribly passionate.

The bonus tracks are cut from the same cloth, with a difference: no vocals, and more of a "composed" feel. "'Old' Blues" has a three-horns-at-once bit from Rahsaan, the only time he does this. The rapid responses hint "Hog Callin"", as does the intensity. "Skylight" is graced with a romantic intro, and a mood like "Reincarnation of a Lovebird". In Kirk's manzello you almost hear Eric Dolphy, who'd make this tune sing a few years later. And "Invisible Lady" features Jimmy Knepper; an ancient tone, weathered and romantic. It's a kiss on the cheek, which surprises after all the hollering. And for Mingus, surprises were something of a specialty. Oh yeah.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Charles Mingus
  • CD Title: OH YEAH
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Rhino Records
  • Tracks: Hog Callin Blues; Devil Woman; Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am; Ecclusiastics; Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me; Eat That Chicken; Passions of a Man; Old Blues for Walt's Torin; Peggy's Blue Skylight; Invisible Lady.'
  • Musicians: Charles Mingus (piano, vocals); Booker Ervin (tenor sax); Rahsaan Roland Kirk (tenor sax, flute, siren, stritch, manzello); Jimmy Knepper (trombone); Doug Watkins (bass); Dannie Richmond (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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