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Charles Mingus Tijuana Moods

3. Charles Mingus: “Ysabel’s Table Dance” (Tijuana Moods; RCA, 1962 [originally recorded July 18, 1957])

At the time, Mingus considered Tijuana Moods, an experimentation with Mexican music in jazz, to be his best work. RCA disagreed, keeping it in the vault for five years. But it’s a masterpiece, as is “Ysabel’s Table Dance” in particular—and so iconic that even its bad edits have become part of its legend. It alternates brilliantly between stirring flamenco (a Spanish art form, but highly popular in Mexico) and rich, boisterous hard bop with distinctly Mingusian flair (nobody else could have written that horn melody). The latter is a triumph for saxophonist Shafi Hadi, who plays both alto and tenor. The whole thing, however, is a triumph for its composer and bandleader.