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"Farewell to Mingus." Toshiko Akoyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band. JAM 003 -- This tribute to the late Charles Mingus is further justification for the awards this band has garnered in the past few years. Toshiko's writing is full of little unexpected gems -- like her scoring for two flutes, two clarinets, and bass clarinet in a haunting and lovely passage from her "Song for the Harvest", and the writing for three soprano saxes on the mood piece "Autumn Sea." All the tunes in the album are written and arranged by Toshiko. The tunes here range from the up-tempo, boppish "After Mr. Teng" and the Latin-flavored "Shades of Yellow" to "Farewell" -- a ballad Toshiko wrote expressly for Mingus, and in which she plays a heartfelt two-handed chordal solo, which is unhappily marred by the tinny sound of the piano. Tabackin's playing is masterly throughout and contrasts sharply on "Mr. Teng," with tenor man John Gross's tentative, nasal blowing, which too often jumps ahead of itself, leaving a sense of being out of sync with the rhythm section. Bassist Bob Bowman and the drummer, both new to the band, make solid contributions. Why a record for Mingus? Toshiko, during her formative years, played for 10 months in Mingus's group, an experience which l eft a lasting impression on her.

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