Q (1/96, p.156) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Wired, raw, wet-eyed and roaring. It's amazing that five unamplified men made such a noise..."
Personnel: Charles Mingus (bass); Jean Shepherd (spoken vocals); Shafi Hadi (alto & tenor saxophones); Jimmy Knepper (trombone); Wade Legge (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums).
Recorded at Audio-Video Studios, New York, New York on February 13, 1957 and Atlantic Studios, New York, New York on March 12, 1957. Originally released on Atlantic (1260). Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Mingus is a true original, and THE CLOWN is an album on which his genius for melding tradition with experimentation is particularly pronounced. In the stunning "Haitian Fight Song," the track which opens the album, there are strains of indigenous folk styles and church music pastiched with raw-nerve intensity and compositional sophistication. Mingus's bass, in particular, in its strident manipulation of the fretboard and powerful sound, seems to express the emotional ferocity which propels the track.
The mood becomes deceptively more traditional in "Blue Cee," but even here sections are broken up, colored by daring lines and rhythms, shifting and synthesizing stylistic modes. "Reincarnation Of A Lovebird" is Mingus' tribute to Charlie Parker, again employing what seems to be an "old-fashioned" theme which is actually a complex, extended line that flows, loops and reinvents itself., THE CLOWN boasts outstanding compositions, superior musicianship by four members of the artist's Jazz Workshop and what is arguably some of Mingus's best recorded bass work.
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