Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Album: Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Songfacts®:

  • This jazz instrumental was written and recorded by the jazz musician Charles Mingus. It was dedicated to saxophonist Lester Young, who had died a couple of months before this 1959 session. Young was sartorially famous for wearing a pork pie hat, bringing it back in fashion in the 1940s. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Mingus played the double bass, but the lead instrument on this track is the alto saxophone played by John Handy, one of several top jazz players Mingus used on his recordings.
  • The original version runs 4:46, but longer versions exist. When the Mingus Ah Um album was reissued in 1979, it was restored to 5:40. Played live, the song could go on for 30 minutes, as heard on the album The Great Concert Of Charles Mingus, taken from a show in Paris in 1964.
  • Mingus recorded another version featuring Eric Dolphy on sax for his 1963 album Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus, this time with the title "Theme For Lester Young." He recorded it again 1977 for the album Three Or Four Shades Of Blues with saxophone by George Coleman.
  • In 1999, The Mingus Big Band collective, formed earlier in the decade to rework and celebrate the music of Mingus, did a new arrangement for the album Blues & Politics with Seamus Blake on saxophone.
  • Jeff Beck adapted this for guitar, recording it for his Wired album, which contains some ear-catching sustain in the style of Carlos Santana.
  • Charles Mingus died in January 1979; his last project was a collaboration with Joni Mitchell for her album Mingus, which was released in June 1979. Mitchell added lyrics to the track, which fleshes out the song's meaning ("When Charlie speaks of Lester, you know someone great has gone..."). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 1

  • Keith Mccarthy from Southern CaliforniaThis song was also covered beautifully on acoustic guitar by John McLaughlin on his "My Goals Beyond" album.
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