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Beverly's Weekly Playlist: Journey Into Jazz - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

By Beverly Grafton

Charles Mingus - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

If the title of this track seems all too familiar, that's because it is the very same song Joni Mitchell wrote lyrics to and sang in her 1979 album, Mingus. So far, I've featured an accomplished composer with The Gershwins, a killer duo with Monk and Coltrane and a most ingenious translation from Bossa Nova to Jazz thanks to the undeniably perfect pairing of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.

So to continue with my train of thought, here's critically acclaimed Jazz double bass player, pianist and composer, Charles Mingus with his Big Band on the song Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Written as a tribute to Lester Young, the original hipster saxophonist well-known for wearing these so-called pork pie hats who passed on two months before the recording, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat has become what is known as a Jazz Standard, much like the songs Misty and Fly Me To The Moon.

Many different lyrics have been written and covered in later interpretations of the song but to my humble ears, as much as I love me lots of Joni Mitchell, this original from the Mingus Ah Um album is my go to. His subtle support in understanding space is one of the many reasons why I love him as a bass player. Even at his busiest, there is nothing intrusive about his playing and that allows focus to remain on the main melody. Yet, his tempered notes are there like the proverbial support beams that allow your gorgeous ceilings to stay in place instead of crumbling down on your hopes and dreams.

In all honesty, I would recommend listening to the whole album as Fables of Faubus is just as captivating with all the exciting meter changes throughout the song. I know I would be thrown off immediately.

Whether one song or the full album, I wish you a lovely Thursday and look out tomorrow as I share a most wonderful song with you from one of our very own!


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