Charles Mingus; Art Blakey & Thelonious Monk; John Coltrane

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By Sarah Zupko

PopMatters Editor & Publisher

Rhino’s great reissue series of classic Atlantic jazz albums plugs along with a quartet of truly essential discs that showcase the range and brilliance of several seminal jazz composers and musicians.

Few albums highlight the degree to which jazz is a true musical melting pot than Charles Mingus’ Oh Yeah. Forsaking the bass, Mingus focuses on his gruff-but-warm, bluesy singing and his often-overlooked piano playing, while the always-brilliant tenor saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk contributes to the explosive feel of this recording. Mingus returns to his bass on The Clown and delivers one of his finest sets of compositions. The most inspiring moments of The Clown occur in the mellowest and sparsest places—where Mingus improvises stunningly complex melodic lines over minimal instrumentation.

Art Blakey’s (perhaps jazz’s greatest drummer) collaboration with jazz’s most innovative and enigmatic pianist Thelonius Monk is a recording of huge historical and artistic importance. The album has been available on CD for quite some time, but Rhino unearthed three previously-unissued performances that make this release an essential addition to any good record collection. Meanwhile, the deluxe edition of Coltrane’s Sound, adds on two bonus tracks and features one of the finest versions of “Body and Soul” ever recorded and the incomparable piano work of McCoy Tyner.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/mingus-blakey-coltrane/