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Weird Nightmare - Meditations on Mingus
Various Artists
Weird Nightmare - Meditations on Mingus
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, Blues, Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, R&B, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal
  •  Track Listings (19) - Disc #1


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Willner's best so far
J. W. Reitsma | Haarlem, the Netherlands | 04/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Producer Hal Willner has raised the format of the tribute album to an art form. Weird Nightmare is the fifth (and last?) in his series of albums on which a disparate cast of jazz, rock and other musicians cover material by one and the same composer. The covered composers are Nino Rota (Amacord Nino Rota, 1982), Thelonious Monk (That's the Way I Feel Now, 1984), Kurt Weill (Lost in the Stars, 1985; September Songs from 1997 covers much the same ground with less success), Walt Disney - or rather his songwriters - (Stay Awake, 1988) and Charles Mingus (Weird Nightmare, 1992). The Mingus tribute features a number of instruments with unusual pitch and sound constructed by avant-garde DIY composer Harry Partch that provide a very eerie vibe to this record, readings from unpublished sections of Mingus' autobiography Beneath the Underdog by hip celebrities (i.a. Henry Rollins ruminating on the word 'groovy'), songs played by a 'house band' composed of 'downtown' jazz musicians such as Don Byron, Bill Frisell, Bobby Previte and Greg Cohen and guest performers and arrangers that include Henry Threadgill, Elvis Costello, Keith Richards and Chuck D. Richards sings and plays a hilarious version of the blues 'Oh Lord, Don't Let them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me' and Chuck D. delivers an explosive two-minute rap based on a passage from Mingus' autobio that is underpinned by weird but rhythmic sounds from the Harry Partch instruments and a solid Bill Frisell guitar workout (too rarely heard, these days).
The disparate elements that went into the making of this album are ingenously combined by Willner into a multifaceted CD that is a truthful reflection of Charles Mingus' complex and self-contradictory personality and music. On top of that this record is also quite entertaining, highly musical and even moving in places. Not for the faint of heart or musical purists."
Maybe a few MORE "Weird Nightmares" are called for
Brent | Ohio | 06/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, first of all, I've been a bassist for about 35 years now, and to acknowledge Mingus as the absolute apothesis of bass players is (say it with me, now: DUH!) a moot point. And now, here's some of his stuff produced by Hal Willner, a gentleman I'd GREATLY enjoy sharing an..."illegal substance" with. And if THAT ain't enough, Willner's able to incorporate some of the noted eccentric American composer, Harry Partch's own homemade instuments on all of the material presented. And the list of guest artists is absolutely astounding. Dig: some of New York's finest "advant-garde" (sp?) musicians like Bill Frisell, Gary Lucas, and bassist extraordinare, Greg Cohen musicians provide most of the music. The "cameos" are a real hoot, too: the Band's Robbie Roberson recites "Playing Chess With Bobby Fischer;" Elvis Costello sings the title track; and there's this GREAT "jug band" version of Mingus' "Open Letter To Duke," featuring the likes of Tony Trischka, Howard Levy, and Bobby Previte; but, for my money, the best two tracks are Chuck D's rap version of "Gunslinging Bird," and Keith Richards'/Charlie Watts/Bobby Keyes jam with the Uptown Horns on "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me." If you're a jazz purist, I can guarantee that you'll miss the joke completely and be mightily offended by these "pop" musicians attempting Mingus' material. But to the rest of us, "Weird Nightmare" is a GREAT (albeit slightly...twisted) introduction to the phenomenal entity that is Charles Mingus."
A homage to a great musician but ORIGINAL
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 06/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The music, recitations, arrangements, playing on this CD are the closest one can get to recreating the INTENT of an original artist without copying or seeming a pale imitation of that original. I think great artists who have created a whole new SOUND are notoriously difficult when it comes to playing their music. This is a notable exception. The SOUL of Mingus is here, but the sound is a completely new realisation of his work. A tremendous effort by all concerned. Brilliant."