These Real Gone label compilations are very low priced and come in low budget no frills packaging, but despite their cheap appearance, they can contain some great music. I am familiar with two of their compilations, the Quincy Jones one, which is a thorough, expertly arranged collection of Jones’ early big band music, and this one for Charles Mingus, which is not as well considered as the Jones collection, but it is still not bad either. Basically “Charles Mingus Eight Classic Albums” is a look at the early part of Mingus’ career, and it contains some real gems, but there are also some disappointing omissions as well.
As the collection title suggests, you do get eight Mingus albums on here. Two, “The Clown” and “Pithecanthropus Erectus”, are easily available well known classics, and probably already owned by most Mingus fans. The other six are a little more obscure. Two of the albums are from a live concert that was poorly recorded, and features a band that pits Mal Waldron’s outside leaning piano work with a more straight ahead horn section. Its an interesting concert, but probably only interesting to Mingus fans. Three of the albums contain creative high quality hard/post bop and are often overlooked in the Mingus discog, but possibly the most interesting obscurity on here is “Jazzical Moods Part One”, recorded in the very early part of his career when Mingus was more of a 3rd stream composer, and a very good one at that.
You do get some interesting albums on here that are not all that common, but there are some problems. It was great they included “Jazzical Moods Part 1”, but it would have been even better if they had included “Part 2” as well. Also, when arranging the eight albums on to four CDs, they didn’t put the two halves of the same live concert on the same CD! Finally, there are other early Mingus albums they could have put on here in place of the two that are easily available. Still, if you are looking for a way to check out the early part of Charles Mingus’ career, this collection provides a very affordable way to do that.