Jazz At Massey Hall
The Quintet (featuring Charlie Parker)
Live date featuring altoist Charlie Parker fronting an all-star bop line-up that included Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, drummer Max Roach, and Charles Mingus. Parker was Bop's greatest icon. Despite his battles with the heroin addiction that was to prove his undoing, this stands out as one of the most exciting live recordings in jazz history.
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.
Blues & Roots
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.
Mingus Ah Um
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.
1962 [RCA Victor]
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.
Duke Ellington (w/ Mingus & Roach)
1962 [United Artists]
The CD reissue of this exciting record has bassist Charles Mingus sounding more a part of things than on the original LP. Drummer Max Roach obviously relished every moment with the Duke. With Ellington out of contract at the time, it was a stroke of luck that United Artists was able to put together this combination. Gets better with age.
Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus
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.
The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady
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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