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Mingus Plays Piano Original recording remastered

20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 25, 1997
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Grp Records
  • ASIN: B000003N9C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,673 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By C. V. Garnett on January 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I enjoyed this Mingus piano album for years in an LP fromat. I loved everything about it: the cover portrait of the artist, the selections, and the "wee-small hours" feel of it. Back when I imbibed a bit, it often served as the unknown barometer that told me I had indeed been "over served." This was the album that hit that 3 o'clock in the morning, "dark night of the soul" spot. And often I would awaken (or "come to")to find the album still spinning on the turntable or spy the record jacket, which had served as a coaster, dotted with circles. But Mingus and his "Memories of You" or "I Can't Get Started" standards, along with his own compositions like "Myself When I Am Real," did the trick. They kept me company when I wasn't fit for anybody else's. At one point--and I'm glad the producers put the dialogue on the album--Mingus says "It's not like playing at home, is it?" and yet one would hardly know that he wasn't, that a studio indeed provided the venue. The engineer asks, "What can we do for you?" Whatever Mingus may have asked, and whatever was done for him, it all served the greater purpose of providing a vintage moment with Mingus, not standing beside his bass, but bent over a piano playing chords that resonated with the late-nite, early-morning mood. I once played a couple cuts of this album for the great pianist George Shearing, and while Mr. Shearing said that these were not standard pianistic chords, he acknowledged finding the Mingus interpretation enjoyable and inventive. I recommend the album, the CD, to anyone of taste.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on August 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
1963 was quite a year for Charles Mingus. He'd already recorded what may be his masterwork in "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" when he returned to the studio to record in a rather unique manner-- as a solo pianist. The result is the stunning and often achingly beautiful "Mingus Plays Piano: Spontaneous Compositions and Improvisations".

Mingus, for someone known as a bassist, is quite a pianist-- his style is heavily indebted to Ellington, but there's also shades of Monk and Powell in his playing. More importantly, though, it's clear Mingus composed at the piano, as the voicings unique to his music are extraordinarily clear on this recording. And it's also clear that had he chosen this path, he'd've been a pianist of some repute.

The performances are largely pretty laid back, Mingus is in a pretty meditative and bluesy mood-- he tackles a few standards, some of his own compositions, and improvisations on brief themes within his music. The best of the material is delicate and lovely ("Myself When I Am Real"), energetic but not aggressive ("Body and Soul") or just stunning ("Orange Was the Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues"). And while it lacks much of the bite, sarcasm, and aggressivenes of some of Mingus' better work, it is in its own way, a stunning album. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott Hercher on March 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I can only listen to this album maybe once a year. The melodies, the chords, the feelings it invokes are so beautiful, so haunting that when I listen to this I can't get the sounds out of my head for a couple of days. I usually have absolutely no clue what to put on the turntable (I have the vinyl reissue from 1982, which regrettably doesn't have all the songs on this CD) after I've listened to this, so I sit in the dark, unable to put on the light and examine the shelves.

Mingus was certainly one of the greatest jazz bassists ever, a notable composer and bandleader, but I think this album, his piano playing, really highlights his musical genius. Most instruments in jazz don't really lend themselves to solo performance. The dynamic range of the piano does, however, and here you can hear Mingus' compositional ideas in an intimate setting in their full complexity, and in their barest forms at the same time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Bowman on February 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I purchased this CD one week ago and already I've listened to it countless times. Although I'm not a pianist and can't comment on the technical aspects of Mingus' playing as others have, I'm impressed with his improvisational skills. It's amazing to me that he was able to create this music spontaneously and on piano, which was not his primary instrument. I saw a documentary on Mingus years ago which focused on his gruff and often angry nature, but as with all geniuses he was not one-dimensional. This album captures Mingus' sensitive side. The introspective nature of his playing on songs like "Old Portrait" (which the liner notes state he wrote about his divorce from his first wife) really caught my ear. The intimate and reflective tone of this music has made this CD an instant favorite of mine, and I can already tell that this is a disc I will be playing over and over for years. I think pianists may be more critical of the manner in which Mingus played and the unorthodox chord voicings he used on this recording, but I think that if the music is listened to and absorbed without that in mind it can be appreciated for what it is: a beautiful expression from a creative genius. If you love solo piano it doesn't get any better than this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By macfawlty on April 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I would put this in the category of similar solo piano recordings by monk and ellington in that it paints a beautiful and different picture of a jazz master without his full entourage. Mingus on the piano sounds much like both Monk and Ellington in this recording with a childlike, but sophisticated presentation. I love this as much as any mingus recording and would highly recommend it.
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