Charles Mingus recorded only three albums for the Impulse label, all in 1963. Two of those are bona fide classics: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, an album-length composition, and Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, a ferocious big-band set. The third, Mingus Plays Piano, is no less a revelatory work, but given that it is a solo recital of a man for whom the piano was a second instrument, he was less popular, though politely and even reverently in some circles, received at the time. This output has been compiled for the Mingus volume in the Impulse Story series of individual artist releases that accompany Ashley Kahn's book, The House That Trane Built: The Impulse Story, and the four-CD label history box set. of the same name from Universal. The music here, featuring such classics as "Theme for Lester Young (aka Goodbye Pork Pie Hat)," the beautiful solo piano read of "Body and Soul," the opening "Track A -- Solo Dancer" from Black Saint, and of course "Freedom," are unimpeachable. And while it's true that the individual records work better than this compilation, there can be no arguing this is a fantastic set to listen to on its own merit.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek