Compilation. Recorded in Europe ca. 1964
All Music Guide
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Rhythmic vitality lies at the heart of the music of Charles Mingus (1922-1979). He possibly was the greatest jazz composer since Duke Ellington, a virtuoso bassist who has worked with Kid Ory and Louis Armstrong, with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton orchestras, with Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. Mingus was much possessed by time, not as a scavenger of odd time-signatures, but more functionally. In his bands the rhythm section rarely stayed separate from the front-line; instead there was a weaving in and out, bass and drums played tunes, trumpets and saxophones suggested rhythms. Mingus' music was packed with allusions, to Fats Waller, Lester Young, Duke Ellington's way with saxophones, the quicksilver darlings of bebop, yet the curving, slow-motion tunes and built-in gospel fervour reflected the man, sensual and passionate. Mingus led his groups from behind the bass rather like a military commander directing a sortie, suiting his tactics to the mood or needs of the moment.
Around 1955-1956 Charlie Mingus began to mature as a creative composer. Some of his work was documented though much of it was achieved through close and sensitive collaboration with sidemen in the various groups he led.
His music aimed always at the further extension of the horizons of jazz and sometimes he experimented with atonality and with a wide range of dissonant effects, some of which the more conservative listeners found hard to appreciate at first.
From the late-Fifties Mingus led a series of Jazz Workshop bands that served as forums for such musicians as John Handy, Booker Ervin, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Knepper, Clifford Jordan, Roland Kirk and many others.
Despite the great importance of his work as a leader, catalyst and instrumentalist, Charlie Mingus after the mid-Sixties went into semi-retirement, partly due to ill health, and was heard from infrequently. Taking up residence in New York's East Village, he worked on an autobiography, published in 1971. This spurred renewed interest in his music: Mingus started recording again, and in February 1972 made a comeback concert in New York City. He toured Europe leading a quintet in the fall of 1972 and again in the fall of 1975. Mingus' regular combo activity halted late 1977 by onset of sclerosis. Among his best known compositions are Fables of Faubus and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.