Charles Mingus: “Chazz!!” (1955)

Track Selection: “Jump Monk” >


Charles Mingus (b) Mal Waldron (p) George Barrow (ts) Eddie Bert (trom) Willie Jones (d) Recorded 1955, I think at the same sessions as the previous Mingus Quintet with Max Roach, Bohemia NY.


This is Mingus at his best. A reworking of Monk, quirky meets quirky, it  has a tremendous restless energy, and tremendous self-confidence. When you are breaking the mould you have to believe in yourself, or at least make out that you do. Love the interweaving tenor sax and trombone, the whole track swings without obviously swinging, you hear Mingus urging his players on. Barrow’s phrasing on tenor is especially tasty.

Vinyl Stuff – pressing, labels and cover

Mono, as it should be, deep groove of course , and .. err.. red vinyl. Does it sound “red”?  Not really. A few crackles, but it is over 55 years old and no virgin, it has been around the turntable a few times.

Being a Fantasy Debut it is a Fifties original pressing and so has the best possible opportunity to be sonically wonderful, just one step from the tapes, all analog technology from start to finish.Sit back and enjoy a front row seat at The Bohemia, NY 1955.

The cover liner notes have forsaken the previous folksy cartoon font heading, and replaced it with an equally odd calligraphic serif face – as you might write with an italic pen – all  thin and thick strokes. Retaining the faux-biblical  decorative first letter to the body copy. The designer, or the producers girlfriend more likely, had no talent for design. At least the musicians  knew what they are doing. You can see how Mingus came to his jaundiced view of record companies.

Collector Notes

I have this recording in Stereo on the French “America” label and it is a pretty nice sounding pressing, but I simply could not pass up the opportunity to own this on RED vinyl. Crazy I know, but it’s RED, and originating in the mid fifties when it shouldn’t be RED, it should be black, so I just had to have it, it’s so quirky. (In case you were rushing out to buy every red vinyl record you can find, the downside of red is that it is much more difficult to assess the vinyl condition for scratches and scuffs.)


4 thoughts on “Charles Mingus: “Chazz!!” (1955)

  1. I’m just playing my red vinyl copy now, LJC. Mine to has some crackles — especially the opening of sides two’s WORK SONG — a wonderful track and the clicks suggest that previous owners over the past 50-plus years have cued it up a lot too. But is that side two opener as good as the wonderful closer, “All the things you are in C sharp”?

    The titles and what we would now call mash-ups (Tenderly and September in the Rain; and the aforementioned All the things you re which welds together the Jeremy keen ballad and Rachmaninoff) on this album speak to Mingus’s tough, pugnacious intelligence. What a treat this record is.

    However, isn’t it the case tha the red vinyl isn’t in fact rare. Debut pressed eveything mono on red vinyl and everything stereo on blue. Why? I’ve no idea whatsoever.

    • Me neither – until I came across it. Its early Mingus 1955 rather than late. I think Mingus became much more well known after Pithycanthropus Erectus, which from memory was 1957. I like his earlier stuff as its more “creative bop” than musical works of art. But its all good.

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