on 28 December 2004
This is a classic by Mingus, and it sounds much much better than amazon's sound samples are able to convey.
"For Harry Carney" is a favourite of mine, with its very catchy and steady, but mellow, baseline.
"Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue" starts out sensible (didn't I hear some of this in the soundtrack for "Taxi Driver"?), but then Mingus whips the orchestra into some insanely fast action which they quite amazingly pull off. This is a kind of lazy melody, and I've seen a concert with Mingus in Oslo (1960) where it just isn't working out, and Mingus just cuts it in the middle and shouts the name for some other tune. But in this recording it works well.
"Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi U.S.A." and "Black Bats And Poles" are also very well worth listening to.
This whole cd is like an amazing jam session, and you can really get into the groove. With one exception, which is the tribute to Duke Ellington. This cut too has its charm, but I can see why another reviewer here did not like it. It's a downbeat and simple ballad type-thing, it would certainly work as background music in a romantic restaurant, perhaps in a romatic scene in some mainstream movie, and it does sound a bit older and much less thrilling than the rest of the tracks. It does have its qualities however, and I think it would be a gross overreaction to subtract two stars from the overall rating of the cd just because that track isn't up the same alley as the rest of the tracks.
This is overall a very good album, and one I've listened to again and again. Great jam session over Mingus compositions, plain and simple.
How this album has escaped my attention for forty years I don't know, but having discovered it and the other album recorded at the same time (Changes One) I am "gobsmacked". These two albums are very different from Mingus' music fifteen years earlier (e.g. "Ah Um" or "Charles Mingus presents Charles Mingus"), in some ways at first hearing rather "conventional", a word that is seldom applied to Mingus' music, but upon deeper listening one finds extra depth to the music. The highlight track is the long (17 min) track "Orange was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue" recorded at Mingus' insistence in one take. Almost a multi-layered tone poem, with varying tempos, themes etc. The five musicians, George Adams, Jack Walrath, Don Pullen and Dannie Richmond and Mingus play as a unit. There is a shortened vocal version of "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love" (vocalist Jackie Paris) but I prefer the longer instrumental version on the other disc.
Throughout Don Pullen really stands out as a pianist extraordinaire....but then everyone has their standout moments. A marvellous album.
on 12 May 2016
This is a review of 'Changes One' and 'Changes Two', both from the same sessions in 1974, very late in Mingus' career. It is a pity that the entire sessions were not issued on one disc, but record companies tend to be in it for the money so I don't suppose we can complain. The two discs are among the very best of Mingus' late career and show the man and his music as being completely revitalised. Not only is the solo work of the highest quality the compositions and arrangements are varied and subtle.
The band throughout both discs consists of Jack Walrath on trumpet, George Adams on tenor, Don Pullen on piano, Mingus and Dannie Richmond. Walrath was a fairly recent arrival but the rest of the band had been together for some time and were a settled unit working well together. Adams also contributes a shouting blues vocal to 'Devil Blues' on the first disc, and on disc two, on 'Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love' Jackie Paris sings and Marcus Belgrave is added on trumpet.
Of the soloists Walrath is featured least. He is muted for some of the time and has a coolish, slightly streamlined sound when he solos. He plays an important part in the ensemble sound. George Adams is a major soloist here. Normally a very gung-ho player here he is much more varied, sometimes brutally aggressive in his solo work, at other times melodic and soft toned. Throughout he shows himself as the complete tenor player.
Changing the instrument to the piano, much the same could be said about Don Pullen. Technically a superb player he has spells of aggressive dissonant piano, other spells of languorous beauty, but at all times he swings and what he plays is at all times consistent with what is going on around him. A much underrated pianist he was a true original and, most importantly, a listener.
Mingus is back to his best form. His sound is slightly lighter than normal but his technique is dazzling, his lines melodic and at all times playing a major part in the ensemble. Dannie Richmond is just Dannie Richmond, as always the perfect drummer for Mingus: any further words are superfluous.
'Changes One' has 'Remember Rockefeller At Attica', an angry protest piece, 'Sue's Changes', a long version with a number of tempo changes, very impressive with passages of great beauty, 'Devil Blues', a rough aggressive blues, mainly a vehicle for George Adams, and 'Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love', a romantic lyrical work, both a tribute to Duke but also inescapably Mingus Music.
'Changes Two' starts with a further angry protest piece, 'Free Cell Block F 'Tis Nazi U.S.A.', powerful despite being understated, and follows with 'Orange Was The Colour Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue', a long complex piece with changes of mood and tempo. 'Black Bats And Poles' comes next, mainly a vehicle for tenor and piano, and then another version of 'Sound Of Love', this time mainly vocal. The disc concludes with 'For Harry Carney' a loving, respectful (and melodic) tribute to one of Duke's greatest.
on 20 July 2001
A bit of a mixed bag to be honest.
The highlight for me is some great soloing from the eclectic Don Pullen who switches from bop piano to avant-garde with startling regularity. Danny Richmond is there to drive the band forward and Jack Walruth and George Adams solo well.
All the tracks are top draw, if complex, Mingus compositions but I just hate Duke Ellington's Song of Love which is too close to parady and sounds 20 years older than the other tracks.