Don't Be Afraid…
Charles Mingus' music is considered to be among the most original, forward-looking and powerful of any in the idiom. It seems only appropriate then that the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which is dedicated to "preserving America's jazz heritage," should follow its tribute to John Coltrane with a recording of Mingus' music. Don't Be Afraid contains six Mingus works, among them the first two sections of "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" and "Meditations on Integration," two of his most ambitious and complex compositions. Also included are "Dizzy Moods," "Tijuana Gift Shop," "Los Mariachis" and "Don't Be Afraid, the Clown's Afraid Too."
All the pieces are brilliantly arranged by band trombonist Ron Westray and performed by the 15-piece band with skill, sensitivity and spirit. The characteristic driving riffs, engaging melodies, atmospheric moods, crashing dissonances, satirical humor, abrupt tempo changes and straightahead swing are faithfully rendered. Featured soloist trumpeter Wynton Marsalis impresses with his own successful efforts to avoid the banal. Other soloists also play fitting roles in the overall scheme, with trumpeter Ryan Kisor and altoist Ted Nash being especially notable.