Pithecanthropus Erectus (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pithecanthropus Erectus
Studio album by Charles Mingus
Released 1956
Recorded January 30, 1956
Atlantic Studios, New York City
Genre Post-bop[1]
Length 36:36
Label Atlantic
Producer Nesuhi Ertegun
Charles Mingus chronology
The Charles Mingus Quintet & Max Roach
Pithecanthropus Erectus
The Clown

Pithecanthropus Erectus is a 1956 album by jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus. Mingus noted that this was the first album where he taught arrangements to his musicians by ear in lieu of putting the chords and arrangements in writing.[1]


According to Mingus's liner notes, the title song is a ten-minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall due to "his own failure to realize the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on a false security." The song's title translates into "Upright Ape-Man", which holds a dual meaning with "upright" referring to Mingus's bass.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Q magazine 4/5 stars[2]
Vibe (not rated)[3]
Allmusic 5/5 stars [1]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave it a maximum four-star rating and added it to its core collection, describing it as "One of the truly great modern jazz albums".[4] In the same review, "the all-in ensemble work" in parts of the first track, "Pithecanthropus Erectus", is described as being "absolutely crucial to the development of free collective improvisation in the following decade".

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Charles Mingus except where noted.

  1. "Pithecanthropus Erectus" – 10:36
  2. "A Foggy Day" – 7:50 (George Gershwin)
  3. "Profile of Jackie" – 3:11
  4. "Love Chant" – 14:59




  • Tom Dowd – recording engineering
  • Hal Lustig – recording engineering


  1. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Pithecanthropus Erectus - Charles Mingus | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "The essential early Mingus set" (December 2001) Q, p. 160.
  3. ^ "The Vibe 100" (December 1999) Vibe, p.162. (Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century.)
  4. ^ Cook, Richard & Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, p. 1001. Penguin.