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Charles Mingus: Passions Of A Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1956-1961)

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Charles Mingus made many of his greatest recordings between 1956 and 1961, but not all of them were for Atlantic. Contemporaneous dates for Candid, Columbia and numerous others during that period are arguably as important, and certainly integral to an overall examination of his evolution as a composer and instrumentalist. Yet, Mingus’ Atlantics stand on their own with a singular riveting perfection, overshadowing the fact that they do not tell the entire story of Mingus’ music during this unprecedented fertile period. Still, the music on such albums as Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown and Blues & Roots is so vivid and compelling that the Atlantic studio albums from this period have rightly become the nexus of Mingus’ discography. This is resoundingly confirmed by the smartly designed and expertly annotated six-CD Passions Of A Man.

Purists may take issue with the inclusion of Mingus At Antibes, as this ’60s concert was recorded by Barclay and not issued by Atlantic until the mid-’70s. Featuring Ted Curson, Eric Dolphy, Booker Ervin and Dannie Richmond, the program includes such centerpieces of the Candid sessions as “Folk Forms 1” and “What Love” (Bud Powell guests on one track). Since the recordings are presented in chronological order, this set of expansive performances is tucked between the elemental Blues & Roots and Oh Yeah tracks. The jarring contrast created by this sequencing justifies the presence of the concert material, as it underscores the fact that Mingus’ music was going in several directions at once.

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