Critics' Voices: May 7, 1990

MUSIC

CHARLES MINGUS: EPITAPH (Columbia). Jazz, in today's approved jargon, is called Afro-American classical music. No work has better claim to that description than Epitaph, a monumental composition (more than two hours long) by the protean jazz bassist who died in 1979. Shifting from blues to Ellington-like mood pieces to cacophonous yawps, the work is scored for a 30- piece band. It was performed once in Mingus' lifetime, haphazardly. This live recording comes from Epitaph's real world premiere, at New York City's Lincoln Center last June. Composer and jazz historian Gunther Schuller led an all-star cast that included six musicians Mingus...

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