Charles Mingus

Tijuana Moods

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Inspired by a trip to Tijuana, Tijuana Moods was recorded in 1957 but was sat on by RCA until its release in 1962. Bassist/composer Charles Mingus at the time said that this was his greatest recording, and it certainly ranks near the top. The original version, which was usually edited together from a few different takes, consisted of just five performances. It has often been said that Mingus forced and pressured his sidemen to play above their potential, and that is certainly true of this project. Altoist Shafi Hadi (who doubles on tenor) is in blazing form on "Ysabel's Table Dance," while trumpeter Clarence Shaw (who was praised by Mingus for his short lyrical solo on "Flamingo") sounds quite haunting on "Los Mariachis." Trombonist Jimmy Knepper and drummer Dannie Richmond made other great recordings, but they are in particularly superior form throughout this session, as is the obscure pianist Bill Triglia. Completing the band is Ysabel Morel on vocals and Frankie Dunlop on castanets. While "Dizzy's Moods" is based on "Woody'N You," and "Flamingo" is given a fresh treatment, the other three songs are quite original, with "Tijuana Gift Shop" having a catchy, dissonant riff that sticks in one's mind. The passionate playing, exciting ensembles, and high-quality compositions make this a real gem, and it represents one of Charles Mingus' finest hours. [In the '80s, Tijuana Moods doubled in size with the release of two versions of each of the songs, and beginning in the 2000s, some reissues appeared with 22 performances.]

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