Donald Harrison, Jr. (far left) and the New Orleans Music Interns (photo: Joel A. Siegel)
8. Charles Mingus: “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” (Changes Two; Atlantic, 1975)
The mid-’70s found Mingus leading one of his best bands (so good that three of its members continued on together after the bassist’s death) on two of his best records. Changes One and Changes Two both featured versions of “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” but the second turns it into a beautiful vocal number. There were very few of those in his catalogue. Yet Mingus once again shows a mastery of it, putting the velvet-voiced Jackie Paris to work on an impressionistic romantic lyric. Interestingly, the composition doesn’t so much evoke Ellington (Mingus’ idol, who’d died seven months before the recording) as his sometime partner Billy Strayhorn. But perhaps this is Mingus’ acknowledgment that Strayhorn had often been the architect of Ellington’s sound of love.