Three or Four Shades of Blues

Last updated
Three or Four Shades of Blues
Three or Four Shades of Blues.jpg
Studio album by
Released1977 (1977)
RecordedMarch 9, 10, and 29, 1977
Studio Atlantic Studios, New York; Record Plant, Los Angeles
Genre Jazz
Label Atlantic
Producer Ilhan Mimaroglu
Charles Mingus chronology
Changes Two
Three or Four Shades of Blues
Cumbia & Jazz Fusion

Three or Four Shades of Blues is a studio album by American jazz bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus. It was recorded in sessions held on March 9 and 11, 1977 at New York City's Atlantic Studios and March 29 at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. [1] The album features two new versions of Mingus' "standards" and three new compositions performed by large ensembles featuring saxophonists Ricky Ford, George Coleman, and Sonny Fortune, pianist Jimmy Rowles, guitarists Larry Coryell, Philip Catherine and John Scofield, bassists Ron Carter and George Mraz, trumpeter Jack Walrath, and drummer Dannie Richmond.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Charles Mingus American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader

Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock.

Atlantic Studios was the recording studio of Atlantic Records. Although this recording studio was located at 1841 Broadway, in New York City, Atlantic Recording Studios was initially located at 234 West 56th Street from November 1947 until mid-1956. When the Shorty Rogers and His Giants disc of 33.33 rpm called Martians Come Back! was issued in August 1956, the address of Atlantic Recording Studios had relocated to 157 W 57th Street. The studio was the first to record in stereo due to the efforts of Tom Dowd.


Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [3]
Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [4]
The Village Voice A– [5]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice , Robert Christgau said the second side on Three or Four Shades of Blue was "the best composed bebop" he had heard in 1977, partly because Coryell and Fortune gave their most impressive performances in some time. [5] The New Yorker found the record "subtle and funny and full of Mingus's peculiar and unmistakable authority". [6] AllMusic's Stuart Kremsky was less enthusiastic in a retrospective review, writing that it was not Mingus's "best work, but not without merit". He felt the title track was one of his most successful attempts at longer compositions, even though he said the electric guitars were out of place. [2]

<i>The Village Voice</i> American weekly newspaper

The Village Voice was an American news and culture paper, known for being the country's first alternative newsweekly. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer, the Voice began as a platform for the creative community of New York City. It still is kept alive online.

Robert Christgau American music journalist

Robert Thomas Christgau is an American essayist and music journalist. One of the earliest professional rock critics, he spent 37 years as the chief music critic and senior editor for The Village Voice, during which time he created and oversaw the annual Pazz & Jop poll. He has also covered popular music for Esquire, Creem, Newsday, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, Blender, and MSN Music, and was a visiting arts teacher at New York University.

Bebop style of jazz

Bebop or bop is a style of jazz developed in the early to mid-1940s in the United States, which features songs characterized by a fast tempo, complex chord progressions with rapid chord changes and numerous changes of key, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisation based on a combination of harmonic structure, the use of scales and occasional references to the melody.

Track listing

All compositions by Charles Mingus.

Side one
No.TitleRecording dateLength
1."Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul"March 9, 19774:35
2."Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"March 9, 19777:00
3."Noddin Ya Head Blues"March 9, 197710:29
Side two
No.TitleRecording dateLength
4."Three or Four Shades of Blues"March 29, 197712:03
5."Nobody Knows"March 11, 197710:06


Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, or simply the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra.

Piano musical instrument

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

Vocal music is a type of music performed by one or more singers, either with instrumental accompaniment, or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered instrumental music as is music without singing. Music without any non-vocal instrumental accompaniment is referred to as a cappella.

Related Research Articles

Epitaph is a composition by jazz musician Charles Mingus. It is 4,235 measures long, takes more than two hours to perform, and was only completely discovered during the cataloguing process after his death. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the work itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller and produced by Mingus's widow, Sue, at Alice Tully Hall on June 3, 1989, 10 years after his death, and issued as a live album. It was performed again at several concerts in 2007.

George Adams (musician) musician

George Rufus Adams was an American jazz musician who played tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. He is best known for his work with Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Roy Haynes and in the quartet he co-led with pianist Don Pullen, featuring bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Dannie Richmond. He was also known for his idiosyncratic singing.

<i>Changes One</i> (Charles Mingus album) 1975 studio album by Charles Mingus

Changes One is a 1975 album by jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus.

Don Pullen American jazz pianist and organist

Don Gabriel Pullen was an American jazz pianist and organist. Pullen developed a strikingly individual style throughout his career. He composed pieces ranging from blues to bebop and modern jazz. The great variety of his body of work makes it difficult to pigeonhole his musical style.

<i>Oh Yeah</i> (Charles Mingus album) 1962 studio album by Charles Mingus

Oh Yeah is a 1962 album by jazz musician Charles Mingus. It was recorded in 1961, and features the leader singing on three of the cuts and playing piano throughout.

Jack Walrath Jazz Trumpeter, Composer, Bandleader

Jack Walrath is an American post-bop jazz trumpeter and musical arranger known for his work with Ray Charles, Gary Peacock, Charles Mingus, and Glenn Ferris, among others.

Ricky Ford American jazz tenor saxophonist

Ricky Ford is an American jazz tenor saxophonist.

<i>East Coasting</i> 1957 studio album by Charles Mingus

East Coasting is an album by Charles Mingus, recorded and released in 1957. It was reissued on CD with bonus takes in 1993.

<i>Cumbia & Jazz Fusion</i> 1978 studio album by Charles Mingus

Cumbia & Jazz Fusion is an album by Charles Mingus recorded for the Atlantic label in 1977. It features two extended compositions written for the film Todo Modo by Mingus and performed by large ensembles featuring Jack Walrath, Jimmy Knepper, Paul Jeffrey, Ricky Ford, Dannie Richmond, Candido, Ray Mantilla, George Adams and Danny Mixon. The first two tracks on the album were inspired by Colombian Cumbia. The CD reissue added two solo performances by Mingus on piano.

<i>Mingus at Carnegie Hall</i> 1974 live album by Charles Mingus

Mingus at Carnegie Hall is a live album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus recorded at Carnegie Hall in January 1974 by Mingus with Jon Faddis, Charles McPherson, John Handy, George Adams, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Hamiet Bluiett, Don Pullen, and Dannie Richmond.

<i>Mingus at Monterey</i> 1964 live album by Charles Mingus

Mingus at Monterey is a live album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus recorded in 1964 at the Monterey Jazz Festival and originally released on Mingus's short-lived mail-order Jazz Workshop label but subsequently released on other labels.

<i>Tonight at Noon</i> (album) 1964 studio album by Charles Mingus

Tonight at Noon is an album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus released on the Atlantic label in 1964. It compiles tracks recorded at two sessions – the 1957 sessions for the album entitled The Clown and the 1961 sessions for Oh Yeah. These tracks have since been added to the CD re-releases of their respective albums as bonus tracks.

<i>Mingus</i> (Charles Mingus album) 1961 studio album by Charles Mingus

Mingus is an album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus. The album was recorded in October and November 1960 in New York for Nat Hentoff's Candid label.

<i>Awakening</i> (Sonny Fortune album) 1975 studio album by Sonny Fortune

Awakening is an album by American saxophonist Sonny Fortune recorded in 1975 and released on the Horizon label.

<i>Dannie Richmond Plays Charles Mingus</i> 1981 studio album by Dannie Richmond and the Last Mingus Band

Dannie Richmond Plays Charles Mingus is an album by drummer Dannie Richmond and the Last Mingus Band which was recorded in Italy in 1980 and released on the Dutch Timeless label. The album features compositions by jazz bassist Charles Mingus performed by members of his final working group with Cameron Brown substituting for the late Mingus.

<i>Revenge!</i> (Charles Mingus album) 1996 live album by Charles Mingus

Revenge! is a live album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus recorded in 1964 in Paris and issued on many bootleg releases before being legitimately released on the Revenge label in 1996.

<i>The Last Mingus Band A.D.</i> 1980 studio album by Dannie Richmond Quintet

The Last Mingus Band A.D. is an album by drummer Dannie Richmond recorded in 1980 and originally released on the Gatemouth label as Dannie Richmond Quintet before being reissued on Landmark Records in 1994 with an additional track.

<i>Dionysius</i> (album) 1983 studio album by Dannie Richmond Quintet

Dionysius is the final studio album by drummer Dannie Richmond recorded in Italy in 1983 and released on the Italian Red label.


  1. "Charles Mingus - Three or Four Shades of Blues CD Album". CD Universe . Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Kremsky, S. Allmusic Review accessed April 15, 2009.
  3. Q . London: 110. July 1993.CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
  4. Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 141. ISBN   0-394-72643-X.
  5. 1 2 Christgau, Robert (December 26, 1977). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice . New York. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  6. The New Yorker , Volume 53, Issues 46-52, p. 63.
Discogs Website and crowdsourced database about audio recordings

Discogs is a website and crowdsourced database of information about audio recordings, including commercial releases, promotional releases, and bootleg or off-label releases. The Discogs servers, currently hosted under the domain name, are owned by Zink Media, Inc., and are located in Portland, Oregon, US. While the site lists releases in all genres and on all formats, it is especially known as the largest online database of electronic music releases, and of releases on vinyl media. Discogs currently contains over 11 million releases, by over 5.4 million artists, across over 1.1 million labels, contributed from over 456,000 contributor user accounts — with these figures constantly growing as users continually add previously unlisted releases to the site over time.