Mingus Orchestras Part II
When I first heard Mingus' Self Portrait/Chill of Death, (part of the Epitaph suite), I immediately thought of Charles Ives. And not because both composers share a first name!
Chill of Death features an almost endless string of interlocking solos - during the 11 minute duration of the piece, just about every orchestra member gets to solo, sometimes playing over the top of each other in "clashing" chord progressions. The overall effect reminded me of Charles Ives symphonic compositions, in which different sections of the orchestra would often be given different tunes to play - simultaneously!
In the climax of "The Fourth of July" (1911-13), Ives splits the orchestra into four in an orgy of patriotic chaos- the brass scream out Columbia, Gem of the Ocean, a solo cornet tries to burst through with Battle Hymn of the Republic, while piano and xylophone are hammering away at Yankee Doodle. And the rest of the orchestra? Well, by this stage who cares what they are are doing...
So, here is Chill of Death and The Fourth of July placed alongside each other, for comparison and contrast. For optimum effect, play both mp3s at once...
Epitaph Orchestra - Self Portrait/Chill of Death
From Charles Mingus Epitaph: Columbia 466631 [Buy]
Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic Orchestra - The Fourth of July
From Leonard Bernstein - Ives Symphonies Nos. 2&3 etc: Sony Classical 516023 [Buy]