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Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music

7. Charles Mingus: “The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive-Ass Slippers” (Let My Children Hear Music; Columbia, 1972)

Personal problems sidelined Mingus in the latter half of the ’60s; when he re-emerged, it was with a big-band album that he again declared the best he’d ever made. It’s way up there. Set aside the magnificence of “The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife” for a second, though. Set aside its self-conscious grandeur, its daring, its ambition, its tunefulness, its joy, even the hellacious 6/8 swing that shapes it after a 90-second intro. As great as all that is, the track simply has one of the greatest titles ever conceived inside or outside of jazz. Spectacular and hilarious titles were one of Mingus’ specialties, with the most famous perhaps being “If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats” (although I myself prefer “All the Things You Could Be by Now if Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother”). Again, though, this one is way up there.