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Charles Mingus never ceases to amaze, even 20 years after his death.
As part of their ambitious Atlantic re-issue program, Rhino Records squirts out a "Very Best of..." collection of Charles Mingus from his years with the label (1950s and 1960s). That is a pretty tall order. Mingus in many ways is as big as Ellington. Always the explorer and pioneer, Charles Mingus' vision touched jazz in its traditional, mainstream, all of the Bops, and Free flavors. Most if not all genres are represented on this current release. The Very Best of Charles Mingus: The Atlantic Years shows as well as any single disc can, the depth and breadth of his singular genius. Staggering are the far-reaching "Pithecanthropus Erectus", the astonishing baritone figure in Mingus' "Moanin'", the gospel bent "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting". This disc is a good starting place for neophytes and is recommended.
Track Listing: Pithecanthropus Erectus; Profiles of Jackie; Tonight at Noon; Haitian Fight Song; Reincarnation of a Lovebird; Moanin'; Cryin' Blues; Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting; Ecclusiastics; Passions of a Man; Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am. (Total Time: 75:55).
Personnel: Charles Mingus: Bass, Piano; Doug Watkins: Bass; Jackie McLean, Curtis Porter, John Handy: Alto Saxophone; J.R. Montrose, Booker Irvin: Tenor Saxophone, Roland Kirk; Pepper Adams: Baritone Saxophone; Jimmy Knepper, Willie Dennis: Trombone; Wade Legge, Mal Waldron, Horace Parlan: Piano; Willie Jones, Dannie Richmond: Drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.