Somewhat less than "Ah Um".
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Mingus Dynasty", Charles Mingus' followup to "Mingus Ah Um", is similar in form to its predecessor, but suffers the unfortunate fate of being the followup to a brilliant album, and as is usually the case, it falls short. Still, when taken on its own, its a decent record.
Mingus again augmented his working band for the two sessions this was recorded during, using as many as ten instruments at times including vibes (Teddy Charles), extra reeds (Jermone Richardson on tenor and Jerome Richardson on baritone), brass (Richard Williams or Don Ellis on trumpet and Jimmy Knepper on trombone) to his then working band (John Handy on alto, Booker Ervin on tenor, Roland Hanna on piano and Dannie Richmond on drums, with the leader handling bass duties). On some tracks, Mingus further augmented the band with a pair of cellos. All of these instruments result in a rather grand sound that sometimes gets a bit too busy, and I found the pieces I enjoyed most involved more stripped down performances. Take "Diane"-- it starts with rising and falling horns, arco bass, and a lot of interplay, but it's when the piece settles down, with Mingus, accompanied only by Hanna and Richmond, stating the theme that the piece is really powerful. Unfortunately, it's bookended by somewhat cluttered ensemble playing (although the shades of "Eclipse" in the coda are quite evocative).
On the other hand, some of the material that sticks to a big band sound (the churning "Gunslinging Bird", standards "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and "Mood Indigo"-- the latter featuring fantastic soloing from both Knepper and Mingus) and one piece that sounds positively orchestral ("Far Wells, Mill Valley") all work out quite nicely, it's the material that sounds more like Mingus' small group work ("Slop", "Song With Orange") that just feels too busy with the extra horns.
As such though, "Mingus Dynasty" is an uneven effort, and Mingus has done much better. Check "Ah Um" for an intro, and if you like that, this might be a good second or third place, even though Mingus has done better records."
Nikica Gilic | Zagreb, Croatia | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is hard for me to grade the albums of the great Charles Mingus - so many of them are perfect or near perfection and this is a fine example, indeed!
I don't find it in any way lesser achievement than "Mingus Ah Um", and the only fault I can find in this collection of newly polished and restored gems is the additional number "Strollin'" (vocals in Mingus' work are often...Ah...Um...Sloppy).
I lack the words to describe the genius of this true Ellington of modern jazz and it is very hard to me to pick favorite songs - beautiful "Diane" or "Far Wells, Mills Valley", glorious "Gunslinging Bird" or brilliant versions of Ellington's numbers ("Mood Indigo", "Things Ain't what they used to be"...)...
Two great ensembles Mingus plays with on this illustrious cd consist of:
A - Richard Williams (tp), Jimmy Knepper (tb), John Handy (as), Booker Ervin, Benny Golson (ts), Jerome Richardson (bs), Teddy Charles (vb), Roland Hanna (p), Dannie Richmond (dm); with Honey Gordon (vo) on "Strollin'" and Nico Bunink instead of Hanna on "New Now Know How" and "Strollin'".
B - Don Ellis (tp), J. Knepper (tb), J. Handy (as), B. Ervin (ts), R. Hanna (p), D. Richmond (dm); with Maurice Brown and Seymour Barab playin cello on "Slop" and "Put Me in That Dungeon""
Mingus in Wonderland
G B | Connecticut | 05/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mingus was on a roll in 1959, recording four of his greatest albums, and if Mingus Dynasty doesn't reach the peaks of Blues and Roots or Mingus Ah Um, it gets pretty darn close.
Sonically it's quite similar to Ah Um, though with a larger ensemble. Booker Ervin, John Handy, Jimmy Knepper, and Dannie Richmond return fromt hat album, but Roland Hanna takes over the piano chair and this time the group includes a trumpet (either Don Ellis or Richard Williams). Jerome Richardson plays flute and baritone sax, and Teddy Charles adds vibes to a few of the tracks. The last tune ("Put Me in That Dungeon") adds cellos to great effect.
As on Ah Um, the ensemble explores a wide range of styles, maybe even wider. It really shows off Mingus's breadth as a composer. "Slop" is another gospel-jazz piece in the mode of "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" with a fantastic piano "sermon" by Hanna. "Diane" starts out with a dissonant, nearly orchestral introduction before settling into a gorgeous piano trio section. (This tune appears as "Alice in Wonderland" on the Mingus album Jazz Portraits.) The album includes Mingus's first recorded explorations of the Duke Ellington canon, with "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and a majestic "Mood Indigo". "Far Wells Mill Valley" is another semi-orchestral piece, almost cinematic in scope. "Gunslinging Bird" has an intense, hypnotic riff.
This is one of my favorite Mingus albums, especially because it highlights his abilities as a composer and arranger (though his genius as a bassist is also on display, especially on "Mood Indigo"). If you like Blues & Roots and Mingus Ah Um, this is a logical next step in your Mingus collection."