A fine "best of" collection drawn from the Mingus Big Band
's five-disc output since 1993. The disc captures the flow and live energy of the band's regular Thursday-night gig at Fez Under Time Café in New York. The highlights are many: Ronnie Cuber
's baritone sax work on "Moanin'" and his touching narration on "Nostalgia in Times Square"; Kenny Drew, Jr.'s Eastern-tinged piano intro and monster solo on "Boogie Stop Shuffle"; Seamus Blake
's tenor showcase on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"; the list goes on. Much has been written about the ability of this enterprise, under the direction of Sue Mingus
, the legendary composer's widow, to transcend the "ghost band" category and capture the true spirit of Charles Mingus
. The reports are true, and The Essential Mingus Big Band
is an elegant and concise summation of the band's achievements thus far.