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JAZZ NOTES

Mingus 1959: A Complete Portrait From Mosaic

June 04, 1993|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The year 1959 was a great one in the musical life of Charles Mingus.

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Then signed with Columbia Records, the venerable bassist-composer, who died in 1979 at the age of 56, recorded four classic sessions, the results of which have finally been gathered in one package, "The Complete 1959 CBS Charles Mingus Sessions," available now on vinyl only on Mosaic Records.

These septet to tentet sessions were initially released by Columbia in 1959 and 1960 as "Mingus Ah Um" and "Mingus Dynasty," respectively, but many of the tracks were edited. On the 1979 CBS reissue, "Nostalgia in Times Square," now out of print, most of the tunes were restored to their original length.

The Mosaic package includes four numbers never released, among them the first-ever complete version of the original "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," Mingus' renowned tribute to Lester Young. Other highlights: invigorating renditions of "Better Git It in Your Soul," "Boogie Stop Shuffle," "Strollin' " and "Fables of Faubus," featuring bravura performances from saxophonists Booker Ervin and John Handy, trombonist Jimmy Knepper and pianists Roland Hanna and Horace Parlan.

The four-LP set is available for $52 by mail order only from Mosaic, 35 Melrose Place, Stamford, Conn. 06902. Columbia/Legacy plans to reissue this material on CD at a future, unspecified date.

Benny's Still Riding: Clarinetist Benny Goodman willed his substantial collection of unreleased master tapes to the Yale University Music Library. Yale has been issuing this material, recorded between 1955 and 1986, the year Goodman died, on MusicMasters Records. "Swing, Swing, Swing" is a six-CD set that collects all previously released Yale material and new cuts as well.

Versions of such Goodman favorites as "Air Mail Special," "Breakfast Feud," "I Want to Be Happy" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" are performed by an all-star cast: saxmen Flip Phillips, Paul Quinichette and Zoot Sims; trumpeters Jack Sheldon, Taft Jordan and Ruby Braff, and pianists Teddy Wilson and Roland Hanna. We should add that the King does some heated swinging himself.

More Oldies From OJC: Ron Carter's 1980 "Patrao" is a highlight of the latest batch of Original Jazz Classic reissues from Fantasy/Galaxy Records. The bassist teams up with trumpeter Chet Baker and pianist Kenny Barron for seven gorgeous numbers, including the leader's "Third Plane"; Booker Ervin energetically explores standards and blues, respectively, on "The Song Book" and "The Blues Book" (both 1964); Zoot Sims brings along pianist Jimmy Rowles on 1983's "Suddenly It's Spring," where the pair rhapsodize on such items as "Never Let Me Go" and "Brahm's . . . I Think"; the late Clifford Jordan is at his bravura best on "Spellbound," with Cedar Walton and Tootie Heath in tow, and pianist Kenny Drew's "Pal Joey" (1957) brings life to such favorites as "I Could Write a Book," "My Funny Valentine" and "Lady Is a Tramp," with Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones his dynamic accompanists.

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