Charles Mingus: Sue's Changes


Sue's Changes



Changes One (Rhino 71403)

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Charles Mingus (bass), Jack Walrath (trumpet), George Adams (tenor sax), Don Pullen (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums).

Composed by Charles Mingus


Recorded: New York, December 27-28 and 30, 1974


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

"They're among the best records I've made, " Mingus said of Changes One and Changes Two, which featured one of his finest groups, together (except for Walrath) for two years at the time of this recording. "Sue's Changes" was originally titled "Sue's Moods," and was not, Mingus insisted, about the "Changes" magazine Sue Graham published at that time out of a brownstone in the East Village of Manhattan, but rather about some of her "moods." (So why the name change?) Seventeen minutes in length, it's one of Mingus's most ambitious works, moving through various themes, vamps, tempos, and indeed moods, in the best tradition of other intricate and memorable Mingus compositions such as "Peggy's Blue Skylight," "Reincarnation of a Lovebird," "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," and "The I of Hurricane Sue," the latter also inspired by Graham.

Walrath's glowing muted trumpet introduces the poignant main theme, followed by a short bridge and a reprise at shifting tempos, which builds to a mild crescendo. Adams then joins Walrath for a jauntier theme reading before the two horns engage in increasingly raucous counterpoint, only to step aside and leave Pullen in the spotlight. The pianist's improv ranges from delicately woven and rhapsodic passages to nearly totally free playing in his uniquely dissonant yet accessible style that never quite forsakes the "changes." Mingus's bass propels Pullen through several challenging time shifts as well. Adams solos next, his expressive vocalized tonal inflections personalizing his excursion along the fluctuating rhythmic trail, until his heated repetition of the piece's key vamp leads to his own free interlude, sparked by Pullen's frantic note clusters. Suddenly Walrath is back playing the central theme until the catchy vamp becomes the group focus, only to be succeeded by a stimulating all-out contrapuntal adventure that serves as the emphatic final exclamation point.

Reviewer: Scott Albin


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