‘New Tijuana Moods’ (originally released in 1962 as ‘Tijuana Moods’, and reissued in 1996 on CD with four alternate takes) is one of Charles Mingus’ most raucous and exciting sessions, an aural souvenir of his Mexican vacation with drummer Dannie Richmond. As Mingus recounts in the liner notes, his marriage had just broken up, and he was looking to drown his sorrows in as much debauchery as he could endure. That background definitely comes through in the music, which combines south-of-the-border rhythms and folk melodies with Mingus’ meaty, adventurous modernist jazz.
Recorded on August 6th, 1957 (and inexplicably shelved until 1962), at RCA Victor’s Studio A, New York City.
Charles Mingus - Bass Shafi Hadi (Curtis Porter) - Tenor Saxophone Clarence (Gene) Shaw - Trumpet Jimmy Knepper - Trombone Bill Triglia - Piano Dannie Richmond - Drums
‘All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother’, by Charles Mingus
As I am leaving for southern France for the next 4 weeks, I wanted to leave you with the best title I have in my 10,000+ library: ‘All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother’, from the 1960 album ‘Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus’.
This recording features Mingus with a quartet, a small ensemble in comparison to many of his other records. The circumstances were unique; this was to be Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson’s last recording with the bassist after playing with him for many months. This personnel crisis, rather than resulting in a stiff and stressed performance, produced one of Mingus’ finest albums.
“All of us who stay sane, stay inside our own cages all the time”, reflected Charles Mingus after seeking treatment at Bellevue and being locked up. Mingus spent years in analysis and even had his psychotherapist write liner notes for ‘The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady’, discussing Charles’s ‘recurrent themes of loneliness, separateness and tearful depression’. Here, Mingus’s quartet deconstructs a series of Chinese boxes devised by the leader to challenge musicians and listeners alike.
And with that, I’ll leave you for now and hope to see you again next month.
Raised in Detroit, Paul Chambers (1935-1969) began working as a prominent small-group sideman in 1954. He joined the Miles Davis Quintet the next year and stayed until the end of 1962, appearing on many classic albums, including ‘Kind Of Blue’. You all know the beautiful opening of that album (the song ‘So What’), a brief duet with pianist Bill Evans. Chambers’ contributions on ‘Kind Of Blue’ are considered ‘some of the most patient and thought out bass lines in the history of jazz’. Chambers was also one of the first to assert a soloist’s position on the instrument.
From 1963 until 1968 Chambers played with the Wynton Kelly Trio and freelanced frequently as a sideman for other important names in jazz throughout his career. A mixture of narcotics addiction and tuberculosis led to his early death on January 4th, 1969, at the age of 33.
In 1956, he released the Blue Note hard bop session ‘Whims Of Chambers’. He gathered an all-star sextet (just look at that line up!) and recorded seven songs, including today’s song, a Coltrane composition called ‘Nita’, which also appears on a great many Coltrane (compilation) albums.
Donald Byrd - Trumpet John Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone Kenny Burrell - Guitar Horace Silver - Piano Paul Chambers - Bass Philly Joe Jones - Drums
After becoming my 200th follower, I asked ohmicorazon what or who he wanted me to write about. His answer was: “…I’m so glad to be your lucky 200th follower. If you haven’t already, I’d really like to see a post dedicated to Charles Mingus please. :)…”
I wanted to come up with something more original than ‘Mingus Ah Um’, ‘The Black Saint’ or ‘Pithecanthropus’ (although, of course, masterpieces, but I will talk about them later), so I came up with ‘West Coast Ghost’, from the album ‘East Coasting’. I hope you like it.
This sextet session dates from 1957, when Mingus was first assembling his Jazz Workshop. Mingus had already put together the core of the band that would reach its summit two years later with ‘Mingus Ah Um’, including saxophonist Shafi Hadi, trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and drummer Dannie Richmond, who would be with Mingus’s bands for the next two decades. ‘East Coasting’ is notable for the presence of pianist Bill Evans, who briefly worked for Mingus before joining Miles Davis for the landmark album ‘Kind Of Blue’.
How that came about can be read in Pettinger’s book ‘Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings’, page 42-43:
“…One night in August he (Evans) came home at about 4 a.m. to find a wire: “Can you make a record date this morning at 10 a.m. with Charlie Mingus?” For some reason Wade Legge, current pianist in the Mingus group, was not going to be there for the session. Evans made it to the sessions (for Bethlehem Records) and sight-read the parts- as Gil Evans used to say, Bill was a quick study… On ‘West Coast Ghost’, Evans’s aural imagination again dictated to him that sound quality was as important as material, in this case resulting in an exemplary synthesis: as he played here, and sustained in the pedal, the music tugged at the listener with a plaintive cry…”
WARNING: Listening to this will leave you with this tune in your head for hours days.