Charles Mingus

Mingus Plays Piano

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This album is unique in Mingus' enormous catalog. As the title indicates, the famous bassist takes to the ivories solo to give life to his dazzling improvisational art. At first it seems odd to hear Mingus without one of his trademark interactive and exploratory ensembles. But the sensibility that he brings to this collection of piano pieces bears all the signs of the composer's genius.

In the first piece, "Myself When I Am Real," turbulence and aching beauty merge in Mingus' spontaneous unfolding of phrases. Such standards as "Body and Soul" and "Memories of You" are given personal, harmonically intriguing readings that blend in seamlessly with a Mingus original like "Old Portrait." In many ways, it is a treat to hear the artist working in this pared-down, quieter atmosphere, as it allows one to concentrate more intently upon the range and compositional brilliance of this incomparable figure.

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