Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Brian Olewnick
Producer Hal Willner had created a reputation as a fascinating instigator, organizing homages to composers as diverse as Nino Rota and Thelonious Monk wherein he conscripted the services of musicians from all over the stylistic map, allowing them to bring their unique interpretations and approaches to bear on the subjects. For his Charles Mingus project, his central idea was as inspired as it was loony: to incorporate the amazing instruments invented and designed by another equally maverick composer, Harry Partch, into reinterpretations of Mingus' work. By and large, it works, making Weird Nightmare a strange and wonderful one-off event. There's a central band at work ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Brian Olewnick
Producer Hal Willner had created a reputation as a fascinating instigator, organizing homages to composers as diverse as Nino Rota and Thelonious Monk wherein he conscripted the services of musicians from all over the stylistic map, allowing them to bring their unique interpretations and approaches to bear on the subjects. For his Charles Mingus project, his central idea was as inspired as it was loony: to incorporate the amazing instruments invented and designed by another equally maverick composer, Harry Partch, into reinterpretations of Mingus' work. By and large, it works, making Weird Nightmare a strange and wonderful one-off event. There's a central band at work based around bassist Greg Cohen and guitarist Bill Frisell, with guest stars, mostly from the rock world, including Robbie Robertson, Dr. John, Keith Richards, and Chuck D Highlights abound; when Partch's Marimba Eroica is struck during "Pithecanthropus Erectus," the floors of the listener's dwelling may buckle. Elvis Costello's reading of the title song is, well, eerily weird. One special high point is the version of "Gunslinging Bird" where text from Mingus' autobiographical Beneath the Underdog is angrily and righteously declaimed by Chuck D.; it's arguably as pure and forceful as anything he ever accomplished with Public Enemy and makes one wonder why he never pursued this seemingly rewarding path. There are several missteps as well, to be sure. Most egregiously, Keith Richards' sneering condescension on "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me," as though he had better things to do, is embarrassing. But eventually, it's simply the gorgeous music of Charles Mingus that carries the day, showing itself more than capable of shouldering the ghost of Harry Partch and the wayward inclinations of its interpreters. Most of the pieces glow in these unusual treatments, and make Weird Nightmare a must for any serious Mingus fan.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/29/1992
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 074645273921
  • Catalog Number: 52739

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tony Trischka Banjo
Leonard Cohen Voices, Track Performer
Elvis Costello Vocals, Track Performer, Harmonic Canon
Dr. John Vocals, Voices, Track Performer, Spoken Word
Diamanda Galás Vocals, Track Performer
Robert Quine Guitar, Keyboards, Sampling, Sampled Keyboards
Robbie Robertson Vocals, Voices, Track Performer
Henry Rollins Voices, Track Performer
Geri Allen Piano, Chromelodeon
Don Byron Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Marimbas, Track Performer
Marc Ribot Banjo, Marimbas
Bob Stewart Tuba
Charlie Watts Drums, Track Performer
Gary Lucas Guitar, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar, Slide Guitar
Barry Mitterhoff Guitar, Mandolin
Ray Davies Humming
Don Alias Dumbek, Percussion, Conga, Cymbals, Marimbas, Timbales, Bata, Hand Clapping, cowbell, Hand Drums
Sue Evans Percussion, Washboard, Spoons
Art Baron Flute, Percussion, Trombone, Tuba, Recorder, Wood Flute, Didjeridu, Bass Recorder, Muted Trombone, Cloud Chamber Bowls, Harmonic Canon
Michael Blair Percussion, Conga, Drums, Gong, Marimbas, Chinese Drums, Cloud Chamber Bowls
Chuck D Track Performer
Crispin Cioe Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Greg Cohen Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Gong, Cloud Chamber Bowls
Kenny Kosek Violin
Bill Frisell Guitar, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Track Performer
Bernard Fowler Vocals
Bob Funk Trombone
Bobby Keys Tenor Saxophone
Chuck Leavell Piano
Howard Levy Harmonica
Bobby Previte Castanets, Conductor, Kazoo, Spoons, Track Performer
Vernon Reid Guitar, Track Performer
Keith Richards Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Henry Threadgill Flute, Track Performer
Francis Thumm Percussion, Harmonium, Marimbas, Background Vocals, Humming, Chromelodeon, Cloud Chamber Bowls, Harmonic Canon
Uptown Horns Horn, Ensemble
Hal Willner Percussion, Sampling
Barry Mitterjoff Guitar, Mandolin
Hubert Selby Jr. Vocals, Voices
Arno Hecht Tenor Saxophone
Paul Litterall Trumpet
Technical Credits
Robbie Robertson Engineer
Geri Allen Contributor
Charles Mingus Composer
Bill Gable Producer, Engineer
Art Baron Arranger, Bass Programming
Michael Blair Arranger
Greg Cohen Arranger, Contributor
Joe Ferla Engineer
Bill Frisell Arranger
Bob Ludwig Mastering
Sue Mingus Liner Notes
Bobby Previte Arranger
Nick Prout Producer, Engineer
Vernon Reid Arranger
Jeff Rosen Liner Notes
Henry Threadgill Arranger
Francis Thumm Contributor, Liner Notes
Uptown Horns Arranger, Horn Arrangements
Hal Willner Sound Effects, Producer, Engineer, Liner Notes
Kirk Yano Engineer
Bill Flanagan Liner Notes
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