home - bibliography - biography - clips - concert reviews - discography - faq - gigography - guestbook
info services - links - lyrics/chords - pictures - recent - shop - trading - upcoming - what's new

Bibliography: Articles


Review of concert from 2001-09-27: with Charles Mingus Orchestra, Los Angeles, UCLA's Royce Hall
Rhino, 2001-10-01
- Mac Dunlop

Rhino Reviews
Random Reviews from Random Rhinos

Passions Of A Man

By Mac Dunlop

Strolling amongst the buildings of the UCLA campus, where the fusing of old ideas and new questions is a daily occurrence, I felt a sense of serene anticipation. I was on my way to stately Royce Hall to witness the kickoff of UCLA’s Artist in Residence series with Elvis Costello. Tonight he would be performing with the esteemed Charles Mingus Orchestra. As I reached the entrance, I had no idea what to expect. Was this to be an academic mixture of jazz and pop, a stroll down memory lane, or a bold leap into uncharted waters? If you chose the last possibility, then as Ed McMahon would say, "you are correct, sir!" The musical event that went down on the evening of September the 27th was nothing short of revolutionary. Two masters of their craft came together, with music and with words, to forge a daring new interpretation of the works of Charles Mingus. We were also treated to several ambitious arrangements of songs from the Costello canon. It was a performance filled with risks, payoffs, knowing winks, and the excitement of feeling that something was really happening up there on stage.

Charles Mingus was a commanding musical presence throughout the latter half of the 20th century. His technical skill was unrivaled, and his compositions truly set him apart from his peers. Elvis Costello has been an acclaimed songwriter and performer since the late ‘70’s, and his lyrical skill has always warranted special attention. The 1999 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory, is but one recent example of how Elvis’ lyrics can lift a melody to a new level. Lightning struck again at Royce Hall that Thursday night. As the Mingus Orchestra brought one after another of Charles Mingus’ pieces to life, Costello gave the songs a new lyrical perspective. At times he would prowl the stage like a carnival barker, then step back to gently croon, all in synch with the music swirling around him. This unique collaboration between Elvis and the Mingus Orchestra made these songs brand new again for everyone involved; there was a kinetic, communicative energy ricocheting around the stage. There were even brief snippets of levity as Elvis and the musicians tried to decide who would be counting in a particular number. And if all this weren’t enough, several times during the performance the tables were turned, with the Mingus Orchestra providing challenging new arrangements for classic Costello songs such as "Clubland," "Almost Blue," and "Watching The Detectives." Two hours and a couple of encores later, as a thunderous applause reverberated throughout the hall, Elvis Costello and the Mingus Orchestra took their final bows. They had gamely traversed new terrain, and successfully combined the old and the new. In this age of digitally preserved sound capturing a single performance of a song forever, it is truly exciting to be confronted with new interpretations. As I made my way out of Royce Hall, I thought about how a piece of music can be truly alive, and change with every performance; how the combination of disparate elements can result in something of unique beauty.


home - bibliography - biography - clips - concert reviews - discography - faq - gigography - guestbook
info services - links - lyrics/chords - pictures - recent - shop - trading - upcoming - what's new