Charles Mingus

The Young Rebel [Proper]

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First off, Proper has issued two recordings by Charles Mingus under the title Young Rebel: this four-disc box set and a single disc, subtitled Pacific Coast Blues. The single disc is a nice slice for anyone looking for a basic, pre-bandleader Mingus set, to hear the roots of his bass playing, arranging, and even writing skills. This collection, however, gives the whole story. These four discs are jammed with 89 tracks that feature the great bassist and composer in a variety of settings from playing bass in bands such as the jump swing outfit of Illinois Jacquet (which no doubt had a huge influence on the R&B and gospel roots in many of his later compositions), Red Norvo, Earl "Fatha" Hines, and, of course, Lionel Hampton. Some cuts are set out as solo showcases; others are straight swing-jump blues, and, of course, others are hard-driving bebop. The musicians featured here range from Kai Winding to Paul Bley, from Dodo Mamaroso and Russ Freeman to Wes Montgomery, from Buddy Collette and Bill Doggett to Tal Farlow and Eric Dolphy, from Miles Davis to Duke Jordan. The basic thing with this set is that it's for the hardcore fan who wants everything and needs to trace the origin and development of the music's icons and innovators. The sound quality varies, but is generally good, and the price -- under 30 dollars -- is most definitely right.