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Mingo Lewis biography
James Mingo LEWIS is an American drummer from New York known for his work with SANTANA, AL DI MEOLA and RETURN TO FOREVER.

One of LEWIS's earliest work as a session musician was on highly acclaimed 'Caravanserai', having been picked up by Carlos SANTANA as a replacement drummer for a New York City concert (allegedly the hiring was at the very last minute). This led him to work also on the collaboration between Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin the next year and also to work with Chick Corea on the 'Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy' album by RETURN TO FOREVER. LEWIS's longest and most consistent collaboration though was along with AL DI MEOLA as a full fledged composer on his first five albums which are mostly regarded as the most vibrant and progressive ones in his discography. In the 80's he would end up playing for the likes of TODD RUNDGREN, XTC and THE TUBES.

In his whole carreer, LEWIS recorded only one album as band leader; 'Flight Never Ending' from 1976 deserves a lot more attention though, described as "Heavy symphonic synthesizer music with a lot of really happening rhythmic patterns", quality wise it pairs well against the classic albums of AL DI MEOLA and RETURN TO FOREVER and is recommended to fans of classic progressive fusion.

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MINGO LEWIS discography

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4.37 | 7 ratings
Flight Never Ending

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Flight Never Ending by LEWIS, MINGO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.37 | 7 ratings

Flight Never Ending
Mingo Lewis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The one and only attempt by young percussion virtuoso of SANTANA fame to produce an album as a bandleader.

1. "Aba Cua" (1:36) a drum circle of hand percussionists expressing with vocal chant/call (with no response). (4.33333/5)

2. "Frankincense" (7:02) a high-flying if loosely-conjoined hydra of instrumentalists moving along as if in the same direction yet without many constraints. Sounds very much like something that could have come from Al Di Meola's first two albums except the drummer is trying too hard, the bass line too monotonous, and the sonic field too disparate and incongruous despite all staying admirably on the same pace, the solos too repetitive and monotonous. (13/15)

3. "Heartsong" (8:20) great performances with excellent engineering and effects of a nice composition. Though there is more cohesion in sound and more variation in tempo and motif here, unfortunately, the song uses the same weird, slightly-flanged drum sound from the previous song--which might work with a less-frenetic drummer but this guy must think he's Keith Moon. I do, however, like the guitar solo of Randy Sellgren: he blazes with great consistency and "real" feeling fire. The motif change at 4:30 is perfect: from racing to regal and beautiful, everybody fully engaged with this one (except the drummer who starts flailing away beneath the guitarist's in the sixth minute. The fully-rock motif that starts at 5:50 is okay, very Jan Hammer-like, which supports a sweltering ARP Odyssey synth solo over the seventh and eighth minutes before everybody comes together for the finale--which is cheesy and poor. (17.75/20)

4. "The Wizard" (7:35) a song that is familiar to us all from Al Di Meola's cover of it on his debut album, Land of the Midnight Sun. A great song for racing along the highway, packed with memorable melodies and musicianship, but this version is more percussion dominant and contains a rather annoying high-pitch droning synthesizer note for a big chunk of its more dynamic sections. Overall, it's a little too loose and chaotic for my ears and brain. (13.25/15)

5. "Visions Of Another Time" (6:30) opens with what sounds like an Egyptian melody theme as introduced to them by the Anunnaki, again percussion and fast-pacing are the two predominant elements though there are some melodic elements worth pursuing that are led by multiple synths while the rhythmatists go crazy beneath. It's just a little too much chaos for my puny little brain. Then, lo! and behold! the music suddenly shifts into a "All Along the Watchtower" kind of chord progression with clavinet and harpsichord leading while someone (probably Mingo) sings a NewAge-y message over the top. The new Latin-based motif is okay--at least taming the percussionists into a more refined crew-- but the vocal and guitar lead are only okay. (8.75/10)

6. "Trapezoid" (4:46) funk of the Parliamentary kind with multiple instruments dripping with funk in a pretty perfect weave of funkiness: bass, clavinet, multiple synths, drums, rhythm guitar, and congas all propelling this monster of a song forward in "Space Race" way that Billy Preston would be proud if not envious of! I only wish there was a more catchy melody to hook everybody in. (9.5/10)

7. '"Maginary Monsters" (1:02) experimental synth play. They must be drunken monsters. (4.33333/5)

8. "Flight Never Ending" (8:30) though this album is teeming with similarities to AL DI MEOLA's Land of the Midnight Sun album of the same year, none more than this somewhat cinematic suite: of its 8:30 about eight minutes and 29 seconds feel as if they are straight out of Al Di's world. How could this be possible, you might ask--especially when this album was released to the public a full month before Al's? Well, James had toured with Al's previous band, RETURN TO FOREVER (as well as Santana) and been a major contributor to the recording sessions for 22-year old Al's debut solo album which occurred in July and August of 1975 (sic [?!] More likely July and August of 1976). "Mingo" was surely inspired to try to replicate the energy and sound of the wave he'd been riding for the past three years and quite possibly was able to finagle the support from Columbia for this album--which became a "one-off" despite his playing on four other Al Di albums (as well as Billy Joel, The Tubes, and Todd Rundgren) over the next decade. But who are these no-name musicians? As alluded to in my opening statement, this would have been a worthy inclusion to any Al Di Meola album--even with "Randy Sellgren" playing guitar. (18/20)

Total Time 45:21

This much attention and volume given to frantic percussionists is Al Di Meola sound-alike Randy Sellgren is rumored to have been a psuedonym for another artist who had to stay hidden due to conflicting contractual obligations. That would help explain the fact that guitar phenom Randy appears on no other albums in music history--though there are Randy Sellgren's mentioned in the engineering/production credits to a few albums over the years--nothing else as a guitarist. Weird, hunh?

B/four stars; a worthy album of inclusion in one's Jazz-Rock Fusion collection--though not necessarily for the light of heart; an album that contains many moments of individual virtuosity as well as a bucketload of memorable moments is somewhat weighted down by the "Emperor Joseph II Syndrome": sometimes there are just "too many notes"--and not always coherently arranged. The album also suffers slightly, in my opinion, from some questionable sound engineering choices.

 Flight Never Ending by LEWIS, MINGO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.37 | 7 ratings

Flight Never Ending
Mingo Lewis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JakeTheGuitar2004

5 stars The most underrated Fusion album of all time. Mingo Lewis is known as a very talented percussionist who first came to prominence with Santana & then went to play with Al Di Meola. And in 1976, he made this solo album & it is just one of the most brutal and lethal Jazz Rockers to ever release. It's one of the all time greats and nobody pays attention to it.

There is some non stop heavy incredible playing on here with Mingo fusing the Jazz Rock with this Latin infused percussion throughout the whole album. What's also really surprising is the musician's on here are very unknown which makes this album really in the hidden gem list & each one of these guys on here are just absolute monster players. All of these compositions are brilliant but there's one that might be my favourite on here which is Heartsong & it has this treacherous Synthesiser solo that's just mind blowing and it sounds like completely from another planet. The Wizard is a song that Lewis actually wrote which was also on Al Di Meola's debut album Land Of The Midnight Sun in the same year which is one of my favourite Fusion tracks, which really showcases the fantastic composing from Mingo Lewis. The whole album doesn't disappoint, it's so fast & fiery with so much energy packed in these eight songs.

This has continued to be one of my favourite albums of all time & would highly recommend this to Jazz Fusion fans who haven't listened to this Masterpiece.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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