Personnel: Charles Mingus (vocals); Larry Coryell, Philip Catherine, John Scofield (guitar); Mauricio Smith (flute, piccolo, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Gary Anderson (bass clarinet, e flat clarinet); Roberto Laneri (bass clarinet); Anastasio DelBono (oboe, English horn); Paul Jeffrey (oboe, tenor saxophone); Gene Scholtes, Pasquale Sabatelli (bassoon); Quarto Maltoni, Sonny Fortune (alto saxophone); Ricky Ford (tenor saxophone); Jack Walrath (trumpet); Jimmy Knepper (trombone, bass trombone); Dino Piana (trombone); Danny Mixon (piano, organ); Bob Neloms, Jimmy Rowles (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums); Alfredo "Corral" Ramirez, Daniel Gonzales, Ray Mantilla (congas).
Audio Remixers: Don Puluse; Aurelio Rossitto; Bobby Warner; Carmine Rubino.
Recording information: Atlantic Studios, NY, NY (03/31/1976-03/10/1977); Dirmaphon Studio, Rome, Italy (03/31/1976-03/10/1977).
Photographer: Susan Graham.
Arrangers: Paul Jeffrey ; Charles Mingus.
These two late period Charles Mingus recordings are a mixed bag. While the second disc, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, is a wonderfully successful undertaking featuring two extended pieces originally composed for cinematic soundtracks, Three or Four Shades of Blue showcases a rather wooly large ensemble with electric and acoustic guitars -- by Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine no less -- to mixed effect. The two long pieces on disc two, recorded in 1978 feature some fine group play with tenor saxophonist Ricky Ford, trumpeter Jack Walrath (both of whom appear on the previous album as well), trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and drummer Dannie Richmond. Also, despite the serial nature of the music on Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, it stands on its own with intricate composition and controlled dynamics, texture, and color. This is one of the final Mingus dates, and one of the most underappreciated. ~ Thom Jurek