Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Charles Mingus

  • Three or Four Shades of Blue [Atlantic, 1977] A-
  • Cumbia and Jazz Fusion [Atlantic, 1978] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Three or Four Shades of Blue [Atlantic, 1977]
Mingus's elitist aesthetic theories have always put me off his music, so when I'm told that the oldies on side one have been recorded with more fire in the past, I can only respond that now I'll want to hear them for myself. Side two is the best composed bebop I've come across all year; Larry Coryell and Sonny Fortune contribute their sharpest performances since fusion became commercial, and that's the least of it. A-

Cumbia and Jazz Fusion [Atlantic, 1978]
I know I'm not supposed to say this, but I've never bought Mingus as Great Jazz Genius--Important Jazz Eccentric is more like it, I'd say, especially in his more ambitious compositions. The 27-minute title fantasia is rich, lively, irreverent, and enjoyable, but it's marred by overly atmospheric Hollywood-at-the-carnival moments, while the kitschy assumed seriousness of "Music for 'Todo Modo'" almost ruins its fresh big-band colors. B+