Of all the titles in the Impulse! 2 on 1 series, this volume may be the very finest. It pairs two indisputable classic Charles Mingus titles – both of which have endured for nearly 50 years – that were cut during the same year. While The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady was recorded on January 20, 1963, the recording that ended up as Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus was begun that very day, but not finished until September. The former album is rightly regarded as one of (if not the) Mingus' masterpieces for its use of colors, tonalities, expansive harmonies, and the juxtaposition of numerous aspects of the jazz tradition – from Ellingtonian swing to hard bop, to West Coast and new-thing jazz – employing a vocal chorus, and even Latin and flamenco flourishes in a single conceptual work played by an 11-piece orchestra.
The Clown was Charles Mingus' second masterpiece in a row, upping the already intense emotional commitment of Pithecanthropus Erectus and burning with righteous anger and frustration. With Pithecanthropus, Mingus displayed a gift for airtight, focused arrangements that nonetheless allowed his players great freedom to add to the established mood of each piece. The Clown refines and heightens that gift; instead of just writing heads that provide launch points for solos, Mingus tries to evoke something specific with every piece, and even his most impressionistic forays have a strong storytelling quality.
Charles Mingus's Town Hall Concert has long been considered a famous fiasco, and the original United Artists LP (which contained just 36 minutes of music and did not bother identifying the personnel) made matters worse. But this 1994 Blue Note CD does its best to clean up the mess. It contains over half an hour of previously unreleased music and programs the selections largely in the same order as the concert.
We are pleased to announce "Charles Mingus - The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (Town Hall, Amsterdam, Monterey '64, Monterey '65 & Minneapolis)." It chronicles the essential live performances of this genius of modern music as his compositions achieved a depth and complexity we would come to know as Mingus's most signature work. It includes (on the earlier recordings) the brilliant Eric Dolphy, along with Jaki Byard, Dannie Richmond, Johnny Coles, and Clifford Jordan – certainly one of the best assemblages of musicians ever. And the music, recorded across the world's concert stages and intended for release by Charles Mingus Enterprises, dashes once and for all every previously-held notion about what is, and isn't, jazz.
One of the first great improvisers on the xylophone and marimba, Red Norvo was also one of the few swing-era stars to make a successful transition to the harmonic and rhythmic challenges of bebop (he recorded with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in 1945). By that time he had switched up to a vibraphone–a more versatile instrument with its amplified sound and sustain pedal–but his steely rhythmic articulation always reflected his experiences as an acoustic mallet player…
In conjunction with the release of Ken Burns' ten-part, 19-hour epic PBS documentary Jazz, Columbia issued 22 single-disc compilations devoted to jazz's most significant artists, as well as a five-disc historical summary. Since the individual compilations attempt to present balanced overviews of each artist's career, tracks from multiple labels have thankfully been licensed where appropriate. Opening with the driving "Haitian Fight Song" (which some listeners may be surprised to recognize, thanks to its inclusion in a Volkswagen ad), this volume is spread reasonably well over Charles Mingus' career, including at least one selection from nearly all of Mingus' most classic albums.