Most often heard in large ensembles and rarely in a trio context, Charles Mingus joined forces with pianist Hampton Hawes for this 1957 studio date. It features four standards, two originals by the bassist, and a jam by the group credited to Hawes. While there's nothing particularly arresting or startling about the date, the relationship between the two ostensible co-leaders is a good case study in group dynamics when deference between two strong-willed individualists turns into a certain amount of compromise.
Charles Mingus' debut for Columbia, Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist's talents and probably the best reference point for beginners. While there's also a strong case for The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady as his best work overall, it lacks Ah Um's immediate accessibility and brilliantly sculpted individual tunes. Mingus' compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um.
This is an LP reissue of a set that was originally titled Pre Bird because it features some of the advanced originals that Charles Mingus wrote prior to hearing Charlie Parker. The bassist leads an undisciplined but colorful 25-piece orchestra on three titles including an Eric Dolphy feature on "Bemonable Lady" while the other five tracks are by a ten-piece (including two pianos) band; Lorraine Cousins sings "Eclipse" and "Weird Nightmare." It's an interesting set of typically unconventional music by Mingus.
So many of the jazz great are now gone, a fact that no one would dispute but that really hits home after listening to a masterpiece such as this reissue of Charles Mingus' Mingus Moves. Not only have we lost the impetuous bassist and composer, but also drummer Dannie Richmond, tenor titan George Adams and the extraordinary pianist Don Pullen. The latter three men, in particular, were taken way before their times and one longs for the incendiary magic that the Pullen-Adams group (the seeds of which are planted here) conjured for a brief spell in the '80s.
This album is unique in Mingus' enormous catalog. As the title indicates, the famous bassist takes to the ivories solo to give life to his dazzling improvisational art. At first it seems odd to hear Mingus without one of his trademark interactive and exploratory ensembles. But the sensibility that he brings to this collection of piano pieces bears all the signs of the composer's genius…
On this brilliant 1963 release, bassist and composer extraordinaire Charles Mingus delivers a fiery, startling imaginative album of solo piano takes of his compositions, free improvisations, and jazz standards. Included are covers of "Body and Soul" and "I Can't Get Started," as well as originals such as "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues." The classic 1963 release by one of jazz’s great revolutionaries is a great insight into the imagination of one of the most imaginative and prolific jazz musicians of the 20th Century.