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Charles Mingus: Oh Yeah (Atantic 8122-75359-2)


“So...given that you’ve - proudly - proclaimed that you’re not gonna review anything here that already has a wide current audience...exactly why are you - now - bothering with a (relatively) well-known album by one of the - undoubted - greats of modern jazz?”

Allright...fair question - that is, if (and, its a big if) the - undoubted - fans of modern jazz have already given said album a fair shake.

Which...they bloody-well haven’t!

Hence this review. Now, I’m no jazz expert...let alone familiar w/the entire works of one Charles Mingus...and, so - please accept this review as one wake-up call for said “experts”...and, a high-sign for the rest of us...who are busily trawling through the (vast) recorded works of jazz...looking for those weird beasts that (easily) speak to the rest of the modern musical world...and can help us in our indefatigable search for coherent terrains beyond the easy reach of today’s generic constraints...

Cause this is one such.

Speaking in tongues - and driving a small band into what became (perhaps) the finest “avant-garde” R&B session ever recorded - here, Mingus (ably abetted by the great Roland Kirk & a brilliant rhythm section) - cooked up a geninely unique brew. Within a year or two, sadly, such - overt - R&B references would be considered passe...hence (in part) the uniqueness of this album. But, we should also consider here the (inveterate) snobbery of yer mainstream “jass” critics...

Because said dickheads - and I use this Australianism advisedly - generally had nothing but contempt for this album...and this “attitude” has been reflected, to some extent, in all the subsequent “informed” commentary I have encountered re same...

Whereas me, I reckon this is - by far - the closest the “avant-garde” ever got to the great Ray Charles and, if the wider audience had (ever) broken through the shitful snobbery of the bloody critics...this could’ve well been the album that broke Mingus to a (genuinely) broader audience.

Instead, it was buried...and is (still) referred to as if the damn thing - despite (finally) being “good” - should only be handled via insulated tongs...

Fuck that...cause this thing is a monster. And, if’n you can’t get a real grip on “free” jazz...but can easily handle free-blowin’ R&B - then, this (truly) is the Mingus for you. And - irrespective - some serious reassessment of this one is damn-well overdue, by far...




John Henry Calvinist