Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Favorite Albums: The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus

When I was a teenager, and was first getting into jazz and playing the bass, I bought as many jazz records of bassists as I could. One of the first ones I stumbled on was a record by Charles Mingus, The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus. I happened upon this gem at Woolworth's, it was in the "cut-out" bin. For those who remember buying vinyl in the seventies, the “cut-out” bin was a treasure chest of albums at a low price. They would often have the corner of the sleeve cut, or a hole in the corner of the sleeve.

The Allmusic review by Heather Phares awarded the album 3 stars stating "These 1954 Period Records sessions include the work of Thad Jones on trumpet and John LaPorta on clarinet and alto sax, combine old and new forms of classical and jazz for a cool jazz sound. Tracks like Minor Intrusion and Thrice Upon a Time demonstrate the synergy between Mingus and his players, and display his compositional skills" (from Wikipedia).  

I certainly do not agree with the Allmusic rating at all, this album is at least a four. The best tracks on the album are What is this Thing Called Love? A somewhat avante-garde version of the Cole Porter classic, and Minor Intrusion, an enigmatic Mingus original.

Other Jazz luminaries such as trumpeter Thad Jones and clarinetist John LaPorta play on this album, which was recorded in December of 1954.

I became an instant Mingus fan after listening to The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus. It is still a personal favorite, even though frankly there are several Mingus albums that are rated more highly than this one. It is still available on CD and for MP3 downloads, although, sometimes it is entitled, What is this Thing Called Love?

Track listing

All compositions by Charles Mingus except as indicated
1."What Is This Thing Called Love?" (Cole Porter) - 8:14
2."Minor Intrusion" - 10:23
3."Stormy Weather" (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) - 3:21
4."Four Hands" (John LaPorta, Mingus) - 8:59
5."Thrice Upon a Theme" - 6:47
6."The Spur of the Moment" (LaPorta) - 8:43

Recorded in New York in December 1954

Charles Mingus - bass, piano (track 4)
John LaPorta - clarinet, alto saxophone
Thad Jones (credited on original issue as "Oliver King") - trumpet (tracks 1-3 & 6)
Teo Macero - tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
Jackson Wiley - cello (tracks 1-3)
Clem DeRosa - drums, tamborine

Official web site: Charles Mingus

purchase links:

Youtube Playlist for The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus

1 comment:

  1. I have to concur with you about this album, I find myself going back to it a lot. It's lyrical and cerebral and blissfully satisfying. I also have not understood the low ratings but, I try to not rely on the point of view of the so called critics.

    Thank you for this write up! Happy listening!