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Tuesday January 23rd 2018



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Charles Mingus Finest HourCharles Mingus & Langston Hughes – “Weary Blues.” Polygram Records, 1958.

This is a great recording, and needless to say because of the brilliance and high regard of its collaborators, is an important and interesting American cultural artifact.
Recorded in 1958, this album takes the groundbreaking 1926 work of Langston Hughes‘ Weary Blues (which includes the famous “A Dream Deferred”) and pairs it with compositions written in collaboration by Charles Mingus, Leonard Feather, and Horace Parlan. Mingus has a knack for making music that is sometimes rousing and chilling, but always original and eloquent music. Mingus’s talent combined with Hughes “cool” prose, written with rhythms straight out of Harlem, makes a perfect pairing. This album’s stirring poetry and pristine music can be enjoyed by jazz and non-jazz enthusiasts alike.
The effect of this recording exemplifies a lot of what I look for in music:  something that is both interesting and moving, which in my opinion is duly accomplished on both musical and literary levels. Hughes’s voice is unparalleled in his delivery, and the words have never meant more as a result. This album is hard to find a copy – new copies on Amazon are going for as much as 40 dollars. It’s well worth it, though.

Langston Hughes – poetry.  Shafi Hadi (Curtis Porter) -  tenor sax.  Jimmy Knepper – trombone.  Horace Parlan – piano, leader. Charles Mingus – bass.  Kenny Dennis – drums.

By Josh Cahan


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