Jazz 100
Charles Mingus
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Pithecanthropus Erectus
Charles Mingus
1956 [Atlantic]


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Bop's premier bassist finds himself at the precipice. By the mid-50s several different stylistic directions had emerged. "Post-bop" would become the favoured term to describe music that still contained recognisable elements of classic bebop, while at the same time offering something new. Mingus offered intensity and sound-effects.





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The Clown
Charles Mingus
1957 [Atlantic]


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An often overlooked album in Mingus' catalogue, 'The Clown' established his template for never standing still. Improvised narration in places is provided by humourist storyteller Jean Shepherd, and Mingus shows his first sign of interest in the blues. 'Haitian Fight Song' is typically regarded as the album's classic track.





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Blues & Roots
Charles Mingus
1959 [Atlantic]


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Made largely in response to criticism of his previous albums, Mingus got back to brilliant basics. This is an evocative blend of blues, gospel, and old-time New Orleans jazz - all done with a distinctive Mingus touch. The support includes Jackie McLean on alto, Booker Ervin on tenor, and a prominent Pepper Adams on baritone.





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Mingus Ah Um
Charles Mingus
1959 [Columbia]


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Mingus pays homage to jazz history through tracks laced with gospel, soul, blues, swing, hard bop and a touch of the avant-garde. The bassist would go on to record at least three more great records in the coming decade. This album, however, is the best place to start for listeners looking for a soulful introduction to this great musician's work.





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Tijuana Moods
Charles Mingus
1962 [RCA Victor]


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There are a few expanded versions of this album getting around, including one titled New Tijuana Moods. At a minimum, make sure to get at least a six-track set that includes the spoken 'A Colloquial Dream'. Recorded in 1957 and delayed five years in release, this is a hidden gem that ranks as one of Mingus' best.





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Oh Yeah
Charles Mingus
1962 [Atlantic]


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With titles like 'Hog Callin' Blues', 'Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am', 'Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me' and 'Eat That Chicken' - it probably comes as no surprise that this album contains a fair bit of humour. Oddly, Mingus hands over bass duties and takes up the piano, along with some unexpectedly effective blues vocals.





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Black Saint & the Sinner Lady
Charles Mingus
1963 [Impulse!]


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A mesmerising suite of extended forays from the somewhat eclectic "New Folk Band". Written as a six-part ballet about a tortured soul, the accompanying liner-note from Mingus' psychiatrist had record company nerves on edge. Also unusual for jazz records of the time, Mingus makes extensive use of overdubbing in the album's production.





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Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus
Charles Mingus
1963 [Impulse!]


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Perhaps the last truly great Mingus album, here he freely reinvents some of his best known compositions from the past. The record also served as a prelude to Mingus' legendary 1964 tour of Europe, with pianist Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy featuring on some of the album's finer moments. A highly inventive record, despite all the repeats.


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