Mingus signed to Impulse in ‘63, but the label was a little slow to pay his advance, so one day he walked into the empty office of producer Bob Thiele, scrawled a note along the lines of “Pay me or else” and pinned it to the desk chair with a knife. Accounts payable scribbled out a hasty check and recording sessions began. What came out was a distillation of the man’s own psyche, or, as Mingus himself put it in the liner notes, his “living epitaph,” embodying all the bickering dualities that lunged inside him: masculine/feminine, African/American, lover/hater, crazy/sane (he’d gotten out of Bellevue not too long before), encapsulated in the two opposing figures looming in the title: Black Saint and Sinner Lady. The music follows suit, rolling between extremes of melody and noise, whimper and bombast, compositional control and improvisational fury. All these pairs of opposites, scraping together like sets of scissor blades, lashing out, getting white-hot from the friction, but never able to burn themselves free from the bond that links them at the core, the center inside each of us where all those spastic contradictions meet and make us fully human.
Speaking of dualities, the sweet and the bitter join forces in delicious unity here…
THE BLACK SAINT AND THE SINNER LADY:
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 1 oz. chocolate stout (I used a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout)
- ½ oz. maple syrup
- dashes of Angostura bitters
- a 2” piece of orange peel with as little pith as possible
Combine the bourbon, syrup and bitters with ice and shake, straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the stout on top. Hold a lit match near the surface of the orange peel and, over the glass, squeeze the peel, producing a quick flame and releasing the caramelized oils into the drink (video example here). Rub the peel along the rim of the glass and drop it in the drink.