Down Beat - 9/93, p.384 Stars
- Very Good - "...[on JAZZ COMPOSERS WORKSHOP Mingus is] adventurous and well-honed....'Gregorian Chant' and 'Getting Together' support the view that Mingus was a progenitor of free jazz..."
Personnel: Charles Mingus (bass); John La Porta (alto saxophone, clarinet); Teo Macero, George Barrow (tenor & baritone saxophones); Wally Cirillo, Mal Waldron (piano); Rudy Nichols, Kenny Clarke (drums).
Recorded on October 31, 1954 and January 30, 1955. Originally released on Savoy (12059).
Digitally remastered at the Denon facility, Madison, Georgia.
Contains 2 bonus tracks.
Personnel: John LaPorta (clarinet, alto saxophone); Teo Macero, George Barrow (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Wally Cirillo (piano); Rudy Nichols, Kenny Clarke (drums).
Liner Note Author: Lew Herman Smythe.
Recording information: Rudy Van Gelder's Studio, Hackensack, NJ (10/31/1954-01/30/1955).
One of the finest records Mingus made with the Workshop, JAZZ COMPOSER'S WORKSHOP displays the musical precision, shifting, improvised structures and balance between form and freedom for which the bassist's experimental outfit was renowned. Less atonal than some Workshop efforts, tracks like "Purple Heart" and "Smog L.A." hearken back to theme-driven songs with more or less traditional chord patterns. In "Gregarian Chant" and "Eulogy for Rudy Williams, however, the approach is more abstract as Mingus leads his three sax men, pianist and drummer through the evolving space of the piece, applying chords and floating melodic sections like layers of paint.
Elsewhere, other techniques are employed. "Tea For Two" takes the chords of the well-known ditty and piles them with improvisations and fragmented strains from songs like "Body and Soul," "Perdido" and other subtly evoked melodies. "Getting Together" sounds like a roomful of eloquent conversationalists with the voices of saxophones. The well-balanced mix of styles, structure and experimentation makes this particular Workshop release one to watch out for.