Two classic 50s albums from Charles Mingus – both recorded for the Bethlehem
label, and issued here in an import-only pressing! First up is Jazz Experiments – a pivotal album in the career of Charles Mingus – one that really has him honing his sound, and reaching for that trademark mix of modernism and raw emotion that set a whole generation on fire! The album's a lot more freewheeling than other Mingus material from the time – although still a bit more compact than the Atlantic or Columbia sides – and the group's staffed with key early interpreters of Charles' vision – including John LaPorta on alto, Teo Macero on tenor and baritone, Thad Jones on trumpet, Clem DeRosa on drums, and Jackson Wiley on cello – an instrument that really helps shade in some of the darker corners of the tunes. Titles include great early originals like "Four Hands", "Minor Intrusion", "Thrice Upon A Theme", and "The Spur Of The Moment" – plus his great take on "Stormy Weather", which is a bit stormier than most! Next Is Modern Jazz Symposium – one of our favorite-ever records from Charles Mingus! The album was recorded in the same breath as his legendary works Tijuana Moods, The Clown, and Pithecanthropus Erectus – and it features the same sort of fire and emotion that made those classics so great. The group alone is amazing – with Horace Parlan on piano, Shafi Hadi on alto and tenor, Jimmy Knepper on trombone, and the amazing Clarence (aka Gene) Shaw on trumpet – all getting plenty of room to open up on the album's longer tracks! The work bristles with a sense of imagination and dark energy that Mingus hardly had in his music in later years – and each new tune brings a fresh sense of vision that never fails to astound us! In keeping with the "poetry" title, the album begins with an incredible 12 minute track "Scenes in the City" – which features a long spoken bit written by Langston Hughes about one man's love of jazz and the way that it affects his life in the city – all supported with excellent instrumentation from the group. Other titles are instrumental, and include "Nouroog", "New York Sketchbook", "Slippers", and "Duke's Choice".