Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Mingus essentials

Five Charles Mingus CDs I wouldn't want to be stranded on a desert island without:

"The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady," Impulse. I think it's the height of Mingus, and probably one of the greatest jazz recordings, on par compositionally and musically with an Ellington suite. If you're going to own one Mingus CD, this is it.

"Blues & Roots," Rhino. It drives so hard and kicks so much butt that I'm surprised the Bush administration hasn't outlawed it. If you're going to own two Mingus CDs, this is the other one.

"The Great Concert of Charles Mingus," Verve. Two disks of Mingus live in Paris with Eric Dolphy, Clifford Jordan and Jaki Byard. Brilliant. The salute to Johnny Coles's trumpet is priceless.

"Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus," Atlantic. My buddy Carl Abernathy (visit his rock, blues and jazz blog) will tell you there's no better version of "Haitian Fight Song," titled "II B.S." here, and he might be right. I'm taking it for the Mingus version of Ellington's "Mood Indigo."

"Mingus Ah Um," Columbia. If "Black Saint" isn't the height of Mingus, this is. I wouldn't go anywhere without this version of "Better Get It in Your Soul."

If I could sneak in another, it would be "The Clown," Atlantic, for the long-form version of "Haitian Fight Song" and for the title track, which reminds me of a Harry Chapin story song, Mingus style.

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