Personnel: Charles Mingus (bass); Lonnie Elder (vocals); Shafi Hadi (alto saxophone); Clarence Shaw (trumpet); Jimmy Knepper (trombone); Bill Triglia (piano); Danny Richmond (drums); Ysabel Morel (castanets); Frankie Dunlop (percussion).
Producer: Bob Rolontz.
Reissue producer: John Snyder.
Recorded at RCA Victor's Studio A, New York, New York on July 18 & August 6, 1957. Includes liner notes by Charles Mingus, Martin Williams and Ed Michel.
All tracks have been digitally remastered using 20-bit technology.
Mingus has been quoted as saying that this is the best album he ever made, and that's recommendation enough. But let's go on to say that the second song, "Ysabel's Table Dance," is a brilliant blending of Latin rhythms and Mingus jazz that even the most casual listener will find entrancing. It's 10-plus minutes of castanet-frenzied joy make one yearn to see what Mingus and his running buddies encountered in Mexico. Mingus wrote that he took the trip to Tijuana "minus a wife" specifically to lose himself, and instead he found music and sights to inspire a masterpiece.
"Los Mariachis (The Street Musicians)" manages to evoke both intimate moments with its unaccompanied solos and the enforced fun and bounce that street musicians must employ to earn their bread. "Dizzy Moods" doffs a cap to Gillespie's forays into Latin music. The riff of "Tijuana Gift Shop sets up a galloping tune that suggests the excitement a tourist feels in any authentic, potently exotic locale.
When it was first released in 1962, five years after it was recorded, Charles Mingus declared this musical account of a bacchanalian trip to the notorious border town the best record he ever made. That may be exaggeration, but it's certainly one of Mingus's best, a suite of pieces that gives form to the range of both his oversized emotions and his varied compositional techniques. The sextet, which sounds like a far larger group, includes several musicians who would become perennial Mingus associates--drummer Dannie Richmond and trombonist Jimmy Knepper--as well as the gifted trumpeter Clarence Shaw, an obscure musician with a distinctive lyricism. In its tumult, passionate breadth, and programmatic content, Tijuana Moods looks ahead to Mingus's later masterpiece, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. --Stuart Broomer