Track Selection: Pork Pie Hat (Mingus)
A rendition of Mingus’s elegy to Lester Young, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,”
Horace Parlan (p), Wilbur Little (b), Dannie Richmond (d) recorded November 13, 1978 Copenhagen, Denmark.
As a child, Parlan was stricken with polio, resulting in the partial crippling of his right hand. As with other pianists, like West Coast pianist crab-style Carl Perkins, the handicap contributed to Parlan’s distinctive style, developing a particularly “pungent” left-hand chord voicing style, while comping with highly rhythmic phrases with the right. A regular member of Mingus line up, recording for Blue Note in the 1960’s, in 1973, Parlan moved to Denmark , where he has remained, a surviving figure of the bop years, currently age 83.
The trio has some pedigree. Parlan was the pianist on Mingus’s original recording, on the classic “Mingus Ah Um” album. Dannie Richmond was Mingus’s long term collaborator on drums. Wilbur Little originally played piano, but switched to bass after serving in the military. I guess he figured it was lighter to carry on the battlefield.
From the collection of the late Brian Clark.
Steeplechase can often be found on the shelves of record shops, usually at minimal cost. Whilst there are few if any “warhorse” recordings in the catalogue, they can selectively add some light relief to a bookshelf heavy with vintage jazz from earlier decades, and they are sheer pleasure to listen to.