Charles Mingus: Quintet plus Max Roach (1955) Fantasy

 Pictures updated April 9, 2021
Charles-Mingus-Fantasy-Debut-plus-Max-Roach_cover_1920px-LJCSelected track (long) I’ll remember April (13:00) >


Charles Mingus, bass; George Barrow, tenor sax; Mal Waldron, piano; Willie Jones or Max Roach, drums; Eddie Bert, trombone; recorded live at  Bohemia, New York City, December 23, 1955


Brilliant restless energetic muscular compositional jazz. And live at the Bohemia NY – oh to have been there. There is no-one like Mingus, not even Mingus – he was in a permanent state of change. 1955 shows all the excitement of jazz heading in a new direction. Every track here is a tour de force, burn the WordPress budget and upload the full thirteen minutes for streaming of the reinterpretation of “I’ll remember April”.

Mingus gives everyone space yet they are still The Mingus Quintet. Barrows tenor is lyrical and authoritative. Mal Waldron grows in my estimation – solid block chordal foundations and dark cross rhythms, probing at the musical structure.   Max Roach appears on only a couple of numbers but adds a compelling layer of complexity to this rich stew. This is not lite-bite snack to go music, this is complex Michelin-starred music to savour.


Fantasy Debut series – long before Fantasy Inc, Berkley Tenth and Parker, reissuer of dreadful anaemic pressings since the mid seventies. This is red meat, deep groove mono and solid audio engineering.

Lively authentic sense of place and presence, an excellent recording and pressing. You have to ask, what went wrong twenty years later. Things were supposed to get better with technology.


Nothing fancy about the inscription of the matrix code.

Liner notes headlined with one of those folksy “cartoon fonts” that seemed to appeal at the time, hand-drawn stars as bullet points,  and a biblical lino-cut letter “B” to start the body copy.

A typographical train-wreck.

Charles-Mingus-Fantasy-Debut-plus-Max-Roach_back_1920px-LJCCollector’s Corner

One of those days you have already overspent your week’s budget twice over, in one day, you walk into one last record store before heading home, and damn, someone has just sold their Mingus collection, including scarce beauties on original US pressings like Fantasy Debut series, and the store has just priced them up and put them out in the “new arrivals” rack. It’s dark outside as its past 5 o’clock, but they will be gone by tomorrow. Grab an armful, no turning back. VG+ condition, not perfect but not “fillers” and when are you going to see these again? God Bless Saint Mastercard, the patron saint of Jazz Collectors.

4 thoughts on “Charles Mingus: Quintet plus Max Roach (1955) Fantasy

  1. Thanks for posting this. My eternal question: Except for the CD-twofer with the entire output from the Bohemia (no echo, no gimmicks), is there any release on vinyl without tampering? Would be great to get an enlightening response. I have purchased this one recently, alas, it has reverb: – Here are all versions:

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