Recent listening, current

Monday, April 22, 2013

89. Charles Mingus / East Coasting (1957)

Happy Birthday, Charles Mingus! He'd would have been 91 today. I like East Coasting a lot, and always have. Maybe it's the title, but the longer I remain in exile west of the Mississippi, the more I am drawn to this record. The lineup is one of my very favorite Mingus groups, probably because of Shafi Hadi on alto and tenor, but it's complemented by Bill Evans. Proceedings start with a beautifully longing take of "Memories of You," which crackles through some unexpected turns as the soloists lend their voices. That's a good rule for the whole record, which is always surprising me. No matter how many times I hear it, I hear something new. Tonight, for instance, I'm really into that bass solo in "West Coast Ghost," and the brief but alarming resurgence of the ensemble when Mingus finishes, before they take it out on a lamb. Mingus was always concerned with harnessing group chemistry and giving his musicians plenty of freedom to interpret changes, and this album is an outstanding exemplar of that magic. It might lack the gravitas of other dates, but who cares. I need to hear "Celia" one more time....

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