Charles Mingus didn't spend his later years playing the same songs in the same ways, so it's a treat to find and pick up Mingus CD's from the 70's. This double CD is a great value and the music is pretty good. "Three Or Four Shades Of Blue" is the blues album. It starts off with a revisit of two classic Mingus songs. "Better Git Hit in Your Soul" is almost a blues band take on the song - Philip Catherine and Larry Coryell bring the song into the rock era. It's not better than the version on "Ah Um", but it's a worthy alternative. "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" isn't as good, it sounds like a rehashing instead of a recasting. "Noddin Ya Head Blues" is a plodding song which I don't like. "Three or Four Shades of Blues" and "Nobody Knows" are both very good. The melodies are catchy and they have the patented Mingus spark. John Scofield plays on both. The bass on "Nobody Knows" is excellent, Ron Carter and Mingus play bass on that song. George Mraz plays bass with Mingus on three of the songs. I don't how Mingus did it with the extra bassists, whether he doubled lines or let Mraz and Carter step up in parts. If "Three Or Four Shades Of Blue" came as a single CD, I'd give it four stars, mostly due to the brilliance of the last two songs.
"Cumbia & Jazz Fusion" is two long songs, "Cumbia and Jazz Fusion" and "Music for "Todo Modo"". "Cumbia" has Mingus' band augmented with a number of percussionists. It's a good song, though perhaps loose in spots. "Music for "Todo Modo"" has a combined American-Italian band. The melodies and playing on it are much less compelling. There are some spots where the music doesn't seem to make much sense. If "Cumbia & Jazz Fusion" came as a single CD, I'd give it three stars.
Together, and at a value price, this is a solid 4-star CD set, everyone with an interest in Mingus should get it.