Charles Mingus

Lionel Hampton Presents Charles Mingus

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It's touching that Charles Mingus, on what would be his last appearance on record as a bassist, should have hooked up once more with Lionel Hampton, with whom he first recorded almost 30 years to the day earlier in 1947. It's upbeat, bright, and chirpy, like Hamp's vibes, and Mingus' inimitable sense of line comes through the somewhat horn-heavy band lineup without difficulty (Mingus' last working band, featuring Jack Walrath on trumpet, Ricky Ford on tenor, and pianist Bob Neloms, is augmented not only by Hampton but also by Paul Jeffrey's tenor and Gerry Mulligan's distinctively gruff baritone), but it all somehow lacks the depth -- acoustically as well as musically -- of other great late Mingus albums such as Changes One, Changes Two, and Cumbia & Jazz Fusion. One of the bassist's greatest contributions to jazz was the extended composition, and to hear great and harmonically rich ballads such as "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" dispensed with in a mere six minutes (the presentation of its theme alone takes up a quarter of the track's total running time) is somewhat unfortunate. The inclusion of Mingus classics such as "Fables of Faubus" and "So Long Eric" cannot help trigger nostalgia on the part of Mingus aficionados for those pieces' legendary readings in the early '60s, and even "Sound of Love" and "Just for Laughs" received their definitive treatment at the hands of George Adams and Don Pullen on Changes One and Two (the latter is known as "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" on 1975's Changes One).

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