CHARLES MINGUS — Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (review)

CHARLES MINGUS — Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus album cover Album · 1963 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
“Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus” was Charles Mingus’ last studio album for quite a while and found him looking back over a very fruitful period in his life and re-recording some major pieces from that period. Having just recorded his extremely ambitious “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady”, you get the feeling that Mingus just wanted to blow off some steam with this album and forgo new material in favor of improving the old and just having a fun jam session with some of his favorite musicians. Although there is only one new tune on here (“Celia”), Mingus and his crew did not check their creativity at the door, quite the contrary, all of these new arrangements of old Mingus tunes are bursting with energy and creativity and likewise are often christened with new titles. For instance, “II B.S.” is “Haitian Fight Song” modernized by replacing its original blues changes with repetitions of the main fighting riff.

It’s the creativity of the ensemble work that makes this album stand out. There are two different groups on here, but they share many players and both have an uncanny ability to merge intuitively. This is brought out the most on ballads like “I X Love” and “Theme for Lester Young” ("Goodby Pork Pie Hat”), where the members trade off backing phrases that smear across the bar lines and create shifting tone colors that sound fresh with every replay. There are many great soloists on “Mingus, Mingus”, but honorable mention goes to Charles Mariano, whose slippery tonality mixes well with Mingus’ sliding ensemble sound, and Jaki Byard whose piano work often acts as a glue for all the player’s disparate voices. On album closer, “Hora Decubitus”, Eric Dolphy makes a grand entrance with a hair raising solo, you can tell he is going for the grand slam, and except for a few stumbles, he gets awfully close.

Some have criticized this album for its lack of new material. Probably the best way to see “Mingus, Mingus” is as a sort of “live” album played in the studio. These tracks have some of the most creative ensemble work you will hear in the world of jazz.
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more than 2 years ago
Yeah, almost aggressively so? Especially 'Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul' & the opener, raw. Love the description of them as playing it live in the studio too.
js wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I definitely prefer these versions, much more swagger, confidence, creativity and looseness.
more than 2 years ago
Great review, John - I love this album, I think I even prefer a fair few of these versions over the originals.


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