Nights at the Roundtable with Charles Mingus and a track from his 1954 Bethlehem lp The Jazz Experiments Of Charlie Mingus and "Four Hands".
January 6, 2012

Charles Mingus - visionary, explorer.

Ending up our survey of Jazz, I thought I would close out the week with one of the true visionaries and most misunderstood figures the Jazz world ever produced. Charles Mingus was probably as much a legend for his personal demons as he was for his revolutionary concepts. Because of that, his recorded output tended to be sporadic, but nonetheless a worthwhile trip if you chose to follow along. Sadly, January 5th marked the 33rd year since his passing.

Tonight's track comes from a session he did in 1954, originally for the long-defunct Period Records and released for a short time under the title Jazzical Moods. The master tapes were purchased shortly after by the noteworthy Jazz label Bethlehem Records and reissued as The Jazz Experiments Of Charlie Mingus. Four Hands is Mingus' debut as piano solo (he was primarily known as a Bass player). The cut also features John La Porta on Clarinet and alto Sax, Teo Macero (later of Producing fame) on Tenor and Baritone Sax. Thad Jone on Trumpet. Jackson Wiley on cello and Clem de Sosa on drums.

In retrospect, all the brouhaha about Mingus' experimental Jazz and dissonance is rather tame by comparison to what came after from other figures. But you have to realize they probably wouldn't be there if Mingus hadn't gotten there first to pave the way. He made it okay to look at things in another direction.

There is a built-in gratitude for that.

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