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Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 29, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

CD has 19 tracks. Produced by Hal Wilner. Words and music by Charles Mingus.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Canon (Part 1) - Art Baron/Francis Thumm/Bill Frisell/Don Alias/Gary Lucas/Michael Blair/Greg Cohen
  2. Meditations On Intergration - Michael Blair/Art Baron/Greg Cohen/Don Alias/Henry Threadgill/Marc Ribot/Bill Frisell/Francis Thumm
  3. Canon (Part 2) - Robbie Robertson
  4. Jump Monk - Don Alias/Michael Blair/Art Baron/Bill Frisell/Gary Lucas/Greg Cohen
  5. Weird Nightmare - Elvis Costello
  6. Work Song - Greg Cohen/Vernon Reid/Geri Allen/Don Byron/Don Alias/Michael Blair/Francis Thumm/Bill Frisell...
  7. Self-Portrait In 3 Colors - Bill Frisell/Don Byron/Art Baron/Don Alias/Greg Cohen/Michael Blair/Francis Thumm
  8. Purple Heart - Henry Rollins
  9. Tonight At Noon - Charlie Watts/Greg Cohen/The Uptown Horns
  10. Gunslinging Bird, or If Charlie Parker Were A Gunslinger, There'd Be A Whole Lot Of Dead Copycats - Chuck D
  11. Weird Nightmare Interlude - Bill Frisell
  12. Reincarnation Of A Lovebird/Hatian Fight Song Montage - Don Alias/Don Byron/Michael Blair/Bill Frisell/Greg Cohen/Hal Willner/Gary Lucas
  13. Open Letter To Duke - Tony Trischka/Bob Stewart/Barry Mitterhoff/Susan Evans/Kenny Kosek/Howard Levy/Bobby Previte
  14. The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers - Hubert Selby Jr.
  15. Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me - Keith Richards/Bernard Fowler/Greg Cohen/Chuck Leavell/Charlie Watts/Bobby Keyes/The Uptown Horns
  16. Eclipse - Diamanda Galas
  17. Pithecanthropus Erectus - Robert Quine/Greg Cohen/Art Baron/Don Alias/Michael Blair/Francis Thumm/Bill Frisell/Hal Willner
  18. Freedom - Dr. John
  19. Weird Nightmare (Reprise) - Michael Blair/Marc Ribot/Don Alias/Elvis Costello/Henry Threadgill/Art Baron/Greg Cohen...

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 29, 1992)
  • Original Release Date: September 29, 1992
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia / Sony
  • ASIN: B0000028OW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,103 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. W. Reitsma on April 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Weird Nightmare takes a different approach to paying tribute to iconic iconoclast Charles Mingus. At a time when the bassist bandleader's significance was being reappraised by a new generation of listeners, musician/producer Hal Willner assembled this cohesive multi-person tribute with a shifting cast of musicians like the (then) ubiquitous Henry Rollins, Chuck D, Elvis Costello, and Vernon Reid.

These musicians were charged with honoring Mingus through some very loose, highly improvisational arrangements of his works. And here's the kicker: many of the instruments used on this recording were created by avant-garde composer Harry Partch. Additionally, band instruments like the tuba and the clarinet (which would have been much more likely at a Mingus studio session) and some electrified instruments round out the eclectic sounds that weave in and out of this musical tapestry.

Mingus, an accomplished poet and writer as well as an upright bassist (in either sense of the word), finds his spoken art highlighted as well, both faithfully and in spirit. The point of Weird Nightmare is not so much to create a jazz album, but to create over an hour-long aural experience in the spirit of Mingus' forward-thinking compositional experimentation. It's pretty damn successful on all counts, and a good candidate for some headphone listening on a warm autumn morning with your eyes closed.

It's a travelogue of styles, from Tin Pan Alley to the Far East, the Mississippi Delta to the infamous Coconut Grove jazz club. This bit of musical theater has a fairly stellar cast of supporting characters, including the likes of Bill Frisell, Robbie Robertson, Charlie Watts, Diamanda Galas, Robert Quine, Keith Richards, Marc Ribot, Tony Trischka, and The Kinks' Ray Davies. I found mine in the bargain bin.
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