Charles Mingus

Thrice Upon a Theme

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Thrice Upon a Theme, an AIM double-disc issue, includes two Charles Mingus sessions, one from 1954 released originally as Jazzical Moods on Period and later on Bethlehem; the other released in 1957 (interestingly, they appear on either side of Mingus' Atlantic affiliation) appearing as The Mingus Three on Jubilee and later released on Josie. Jazzical Moods found the great composer and bandleader in the company of Thad Jones, John LaPorta, Teo Macero, Jackson Wiley on cello, and drummer Clem DeRosa. What is compelling about these cuts are the tunes including wildly experimental (for the time) readings of "Stormy Weather" and "What Is This Thing Called Love." The originals, such as "Minor Intrusions," and "Thrice Upon a Theme," must have been considered nuts for the times: Ornette Coleman was branded crazy and he appeared a few years later. The bop heads in these pieces are extrapolated upon with Mingus' percussive piano playing and Macero's wiley tenor playing. The second disc puts the master in great company with pianist Hampton Hawes and drummer Dannie Richmond. "Hamp's New Blues," "Laura," "Dizzy Moods," and the reading of "I Can't Get Started" are some high points, but the flow and interplay between the three players is relaxed and chancy.

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