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.
This budget two-fer in Impulse's 2011 reissue series offers trombonist Curtis Fuller's first two releases for the label, both recorded in 1961; they are his 18th and 19th overall. The first, Soul Trombone, recorded in November, is aptly titled and places Fuller as the leader of a stellar band that includes pianist Cedar Walton, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, Granville T. Hogan on drums, and either Jimmy Cobb or Jymie Merritt on bass. Of the six track on the set, three are originals, and they include the stellar hard bop offering "The Clan," the swinging "Newdles," and the breezy "Ladies Night." Two standard ballads here, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," and Stan Getz's arrangement of "Dear Old Stockholm," are also beautifully delivered.
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.