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What's so funny is some people think a composer's supposed to please them, but in a way a composer is a chronicler like a critic. He's supposed to report on what he's seen and lived.
- Charles Mingus

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Charles Mingus
1. II B.S. 4:46
2. I X Love 7:38
3. Celia 6:12
4. Mood Indigo1 4:43
5. Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul 6:28
6. Theme for Lester Young 5:50
7. Hora Decubitus 4:41
8. Freedom2 5:10
1Originally composed by Duke Ellington
2Did not appear on the original LP but was included in the 1995 re-release.

The Facts
The album was originally released in 1963 and was re-released in 1995, both on Impulse! Records. It was recorded in two sessions, one on January 20, 1963 and the other on September 20, 1963. Both of these recording sessions occured in New York but each had some different players. On the album, tracks 2 and 3 are from the first session while tracks 1 and 4 through 8 were recorded in the second session.3 The first session consisted of Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams on trumpets, Quentin Jackson on trombone, Don Butterfield on tuba, Jerome Richardson on soprano and baritone saxes as well as flute, Dick Hafer on tenor sax, flute and oboe, Charles Mariano on alto sax, Jaki Byard on piano, Jay Berliner on guitar, Charles Mingus on bass and narration and Dannie Richmond on drums. The second session consisted of Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams on trumpets, Britt Woodman on trombone, Don Butterfield on tuba, Jerome Richardson on soprano and baritone saxes as well as flute, Dick Hafer on tenor sax, flute and clarinet, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Eric Dolphy on alto sax and flute, Jaki Byard on piano, Charles Mingus on bass and piano and Walter Perkins on drums.

The album was recorded after Mingus's collaboration with Duke Ellington and Max Roach on Money Jungle in September 1962. Tracks 2 and 3 were recorded in the same session as Black Saint and the Sinner Lady on January 20th, 1963. It was also the last studio recording Mingus did until Let my Children Hear Music in 1971.

The review
Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus suffers from a reputation of being one of the least essential Mingus album. This reputation stems from the fact that many of the songs on this album can be found elsewhere. II B.S. is very similar to Haitian Fight Song, Theme for Lester Young is a version of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul is a version of Better Git It In Your Soul, Hora Decubitus is a version of E's Flat Ah's Flat Too and Mood Indigo is a composition by Duke Ellington.4 It's not held in as high of esteem as his Columbia recordings such as Mingus Ah Um. In general, it's the black sheep of Mingus albums for Mingus fans. In spite of this, it's still an excellent album. The playing and intensity is amazing. While the album may not be terribly important to someone who already has a few recordings of Mingus, it would serve as a fine introduction for someone less familiar with his works.

The album starts of with II B.S. The bass solo at the beginning draws you into the album with its dramatic build up that leads you into the ensemble style that the album perfectly captures. The next song is I X Love, a slower and emotional song with incredible layering. Next is Celia. Celia was Mingus's ex-wife and the song is an attempted portrait. Interestingly, the song uses The Lady in Red as a secondary theme as Celia was a red head. That leads us to Mood Indigo, a piece composed by Duke Ellington. Mingus does a rather lengthy bass solo on this track and the execution is flawless. The album picks up tempo and intensity at this point with Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul. This is a fairly fast tempo song done in 6/8 time. The album slows back down with Theme for Lester Young. The tenor sax is naturally the central instrument and Booker Ervin handles it masterfully. Next is Hora Decubitus which relies heavily on riffs and improvised solos. Finally, we have Freedom which was not included on the original album. Mingus narrates a stirring poem over some very minimalistic music. The refrain is recited and a drum picks up the pace. The band plays a fast and brassy tune, then slows down again and leads to another repetition of the refrain, ending the album.

It think the true argument to counter the previously discussed criticism lies not in the individual songs but in the composition of the album itself. Each song is chosen for a reason. Most of the songs are actually about something or someone as opposed to simply being music. I am of the opinion that the album as a whole is a sort of meta-portrait. It shows the various ways he tells stories and describes things in his compositions. If for this reason only, it's worth a listen.

3In the liner notes of the original album, Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul was mistakenly listed as being recorded on the January date, but has a solo from Booker Ervin. This was corrected on re-release.
4I've also read that I X Love is basically Duke's Choice, though I don't have a copy Duke's Choice to compare it to, so I'm squeemish about putting it directly in.

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