Charles Mingus : The Clown

Charles Mingus : The Clown


Curtis Porter (alto, tenor sax), Jimmy Knepper (trombone), Wade Legge (piano), Charles Mingus (bass), Dannie Richmond (drums), Jean Shepherd (narration on “The Clown” track)

Atlantic 1260

Scorpio Music Records : LP 180 gram

Brand New and Sealed Record

Discontinued : last copy available!...

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A1 - Haitian Fight Song
A2 - Blue Cee
B1 - Reincarnation Of A Lovebird
B2 - The Clown

Recorded on February 13 and March 12, 1957 at Atlantic Studios in New York City.

The following excerpts come from the original liner notes and are statements made by Mingus himself :

On "Haitian Fight Song", Mingus said "I'd say this song has a contemporary folk feeling. My solo in it is a deeply concentrated one. I can't play it right unless I'm thinking about prejudice and hate and persecution, and how unfair it is. There's sadness and cries in it, but also determination. And it usually ends with my feeling: 'I told them! I hope somebody heard me.”

"Blue Cee" is a standard blues in two keys, C and B♭, "but that's not noticeable and it ends up in C, basically", he said and continued "I heard some Basie in it and also some church-like feeling".

"Reincarnation of a Lovebird"is a composition dedicaced to bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker, known commonly as Bird. I wouldn't say I set out to write a piece on Bird. […] Suddenly I realize it was Bird. […] In one way, the woks isn't like him. It's built on long lines and most of his pieces were short lines. But it's my feeling about Bird. I felt like crying when I wrote it."

"The Clown tells the story of a clown who tried to please people like most jazz musicians do, but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with his blowing his brains out with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; leaves it more up to the listener."

Who hasn't got an ancient, worn-out copy of The Clown on his shelf, with a tatty cover and torn inner sleeve? Or maybe one of the rare re-releases made of cheap, thin vinyl with dreadful graphic art? And if you haven't heard this gem for a long time, despite the flood of Mingus LPs on the market, then you really should seize this opportunity to do so. The Clown was, and still is, an absolute must-have for every jazz collector. The small ensemble, only five musicians, came into studio to record music exclusively composed by the double bassist. Over the next 15 years, three of them were to be heard in numerous concerts with other ensembles. But the original recordings on this LP were the most deeply concentrated, the most versatile, and quite simply the best of all. The more so because the label attached great importance to optimal studio conditions and allowed the instrumentalists plenty of time to make the recordings.