No jazz musician has been serviced so well in death as Charles Mingus. Two decades after his death, the permanent big band he never had gathers weekly at the Fez, a New York club, giving full gale force to Mingus' big-band pieces, extrapolating on the combo pieces to rattle the ceiling as Mingus might have.
For "Blues & Politics," the neo-Mingusites revisit politically tinged compositions, including the raucous revolutionary salute of "Haitian Fight Song" and the barrelhouse protest of "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me." "Meditations for a Pair of Wire Cutters," with its wide swings from elation to dread, is as emotionally sweeping a composition as jazz has produced; it's pure Mingus and evocatively delivered. Hard-core Mingus fans can complain that the band lacks the unpredictable originality of Mingus sidekicks such as Eric Dolphy, Jaki Byard and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. But if you miss out on the band that delivers Mingus by way of Randy Brecker, John Stubblefield, Seamus Blake, John Hicks and Vincent Herring (to name a few), your musical world will only be poorer for your discernment.