If you asked me to name my favourite jazz musician, the first person I would probably name, before equivocating, would be Charles Mingus. And yet I’ve heard so little of his discography, really, with my listening focused pretty much entirely on what people would call his prime. Until I listened to this record, I’m not even sure I knew he had any trio recordings. So that’s where I’m coming from here: clearly I’m not as much of a fan as I thought I was.
It is strange listening to a Mingus record without any horns. So much of what I associate with him comes from his unique horn charts. It’s a bit of a challenge to think about him in any other context, at least for me. If you played this record for me without telling me who it was, I might not even associate it with him. (Though, hopefully, I would ask “Who’s the bassist?”)
This record is more standards than originals. I only know one of the standards really well (“Summertime”) so I can’t really comment as to how well they interpret them – though I enjoy their version of “Summertime” well enough – but everything seems fine. I read somewhere they deliberately fool around with the chords on “Yesterday” but I don’t know the song well enough. The originals are not tracks that are going to stand out among the standards, at least in my opinion. But again, they’re fine and one of them is pretty lively.
I don’t know Hawes like I know Mingus and even Richmond, but I will say he doesn’t strike me as the most interesting piano player in the world. He’s fine, and he works for this ensemble, I’m just not sure I’m going to seek out his other records.
Everything about this record strikes me as fine: the selections, the performances, the sound. I just can’t get super excited about it. It doesn’t really address my Mingus fix needs but it’s definitely something I’d listen to a bunch more.