A fantastic album – 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
". One of Mingus's great Bethlehem sessions from the 50s. The great one's playing here in the company of John LaPorta, Teo Macero, Thad Jones, Jackson Wiley, and Clem De Rosa – and the set includes 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! One of Charles Mingus' excellent albums for the Bethlehem label – recorded during that magical year of 1957, a real turning point in his career! There's a sharpness here to Mingus' musical vision that hadn't shown up in previous years – a refinement of ideas expressed for Savoy and Prestige on previous sessions, drawn with tighter tension, and a bolder sense of spirit and emotion throughout. The group's a well-chosen batch of modernists – with Shafi Hadi on alto and tenor, Jimmy Knepper on trombone, Clarence Shaw on trumpet, and the surprising addition of Bill Evans on piano – sounding a fair bit bolder here than elsewhere. Titles are almost all Mingus originals with a great balance of modern structures and freer solo moments – and tracks include "Conversation", "West Coast Ghost", "Fifty First
Street Blues", "East Coasting", and the sublime "Celia", which Mingus and Hadi performed in the film Shadows by John Cassavettes.
(Out of print.)