Charles Mingus: Mingus Takes Manhattan

Rating: ★★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Dannie Richmond ((d))
Yusef Lateef (reeds)
Booker Ervin (reeds)
Charles McPherson (reeds)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk (reeds)
Charles Mingus (b, p)
Pepper Addams (bs)


New Land


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Catalogue Number:



Rec. 1961-1962

As far as titles go, nothing could be more appropriate for a character as brilliant and turbulent as Charles Mingus. The military connotations of Mingus Takes Manhattan call to mind his ability to stick it to the man, and if the bassist-pianist-composer-lyric writer was capable of slaying the notoriously racist governor of Arkansas with a tune, then he was arguably more than ready to run riot at New York’s Birdland club in a string of dates form the autumn of 1961 to the spring of 1962.

This sumptuously packaged 4-LP box set features Mingus ‘greatest hits’, above all the aforesaid protest song ‘Fables Of Faubus’ as well as other classics, such as ‘Ysabel’s Table Dance’, ‘Eat That Chicken’ and ‘Tonight At Noon.’

Between them, these tracks summarise the peerless gift Mingus had for creating a unique mosaic of the history of black music and beyond, blending the drive of swing and bebop with the seductive sway of Latin rhythms and the righteous holler of gospel. Hearing the bassist lead an all-star band, boasting the likes of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and Booker Ervin, in the reed section alone, is exhilarating, above all for their avant-garde prescience.

Yet for all his enfant terrible credentials, Mingus was nothing if not a dutiful disciple of one of the great figures in 20th century music, Duke Ellington, with whom he cut the astounding Money Jungle. Here the rendition of ‘Take The A Train’ is absolutely magical.

A foreword by one of Mingus’ most important contemporary scions, Christian McBride and a long essay by Jazzwise contributor and Mingus biographer Brian Priestley are additional selling points for this timeless music that can sell itself.

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