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.