Charles Mingus: Oh Yeah (1961) 1988
A1 01. Hog Callin’ Blues
A2 02. Devil Woman
A3 03. Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am
B1 04. Ecclusiastics
B2 05. Oh Lord, Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me
B3 06. Eat That Chicken
B4 07. Passions of a Man
bonus track (*not on original LP) [1998 Atlantic CD re-issue]
08. Charles Mingus Interviewed by Nesuhi Ertegun [*]
bonus tracks (*not on original LP) [1999 Rhino CD re-issue]
08. ‘Old’ Blues for Walt’s Torin [*– 7:58]
09. Peggy’s Blue Skylight [*– 9:49]
10. Invisible Lady [*– 4:48]
Charles Mingus – piano, vocals
Roland Kirk – flute, siren, tenor sax, manzello, strich
Booker Ervin – tenor sax
Jimmy Knepper – trombone
Doug Watkins – bass
Dannie Richmond – drums
Label: Atlantic – SD 1377
Recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, N.Y.; November 6, 1961
Engineer: Tom Dowd, Phil Iehle
Producer: Nesuhi Ertegun
Liner Notes: Nat Hentoff
Cover: Loring Eutemey
On Devil Woman, Roland Kirk takes the first tenor sax solo, and Booker Ervin the second. Booker Ervin is the tenor sax soloist on Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am.
On Hog Callin’ Blues, Eclusiastics, Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me, Eat That Chicken, all the sax solos are by Roland Kirk.
NB: The 1988 Atlantic CD re-issue includes only one additional track, a 24-minute excerpt of an interview with Mingus conducted by Nesuhi Ertegün which was discovered in 1987.
The full 77-minute interview appears as a bonus disc on the box set Passions of a Man: the Complete Atlantic Recordings (1956-1961).
After several sessions with Columbia and Candid, Charles Mingus briefly returned to Atlantic and cut the freewheeling Oh Yeah, which has to rank as the wildest of all his classic albums.
Mingus plays no bass whatsoever, hiring Doug Watkins to fill in while he accompanies the group on piano and contributes bluesy vocals to several tracks (while shouting encouragement on nearly all of them).
Mingus had always had a bizarre sense of humor, as expressed in some of his song titles and arranging devices, but Oh Yeah often gets downright warped.
That’s partly because Mingus is freed up to vocalize more often, but it’s also due to the presence of mad genius Roland Kirk.
His chemistry with Mingus is fantastically explosive, which makes sense — both were encyclopedias of jazz tradition, but given over to oddball modernist experimentation.
It’s a shame Kirk only spent three months with the band, because his solo interpretations are such symbiotic reflections of Mingus’ intent as a composer.
Look no further than “Hog Callin’ Blues,” a stomping “Haitian Fight Song” descendant where Kirk honks and roars the blues like a man possessed. Mingus’ vocal selections radiate the same dementia, whether it’s the stream-of-consciousness blues couplets on “Devil Woman,” the dark-humored modern-day spiritual “Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me,” or the dadaist stride piano bounce of “Eat That Chicken,” a nod to Fats Waller’s comic novelties.
Elsewhere, “Passions of a Man” sounds almost like musique concrète, while “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am” nicks some Monk angularity and “Ecclusiastics” adds some testifying shouts and a chorale-like theme to Mingus’ gospel-jazz hybrid.
Oh Yeah is probably the most offbeat Mingus album ever, and that’s what makes it so vital.
[Some re-issues add three bonus tracks from the session, first released on Tonight at Noon.]