The Clown (album)

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The Clown
Charles Mingus-The Clown Album Cover.jpg
Studio album by Charles Mingus
Released Late August/early September 1957[1]
Recorded February 13 and March 12, 1957
Atlantic Studios, New York City
Genre Jazz
Length 40:41
Label Atlantic
Producer Nesuhi Ertegün
Charles Mingus chronology
Pithecanthropus Erectus
The Clown
Mingus Three
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[2]

The Clown is an album by Charles Mingus recorded and released in 1957 on Atlantic Records as SD-1260. It is the follow-up to 1956's Pithecanthropus Erectus and features the improvised narration of Jean Shepherd. A deluxe edition of The Clown was issued in 2000 on Rhino featuring two bonus tracks. All the tracks were recorded on March 12, 1957, except for "The Clown", recorded on February 13 of the same year.

According to Nat Hentoff's liner notes, Mingus explained why he chose those four tracks for the album: "I selected these four over two others that were more intricate because some of those guys had been saying that I didn't swing. So I made some that did. This album also has the first blues I've made on record."

Notes about the tracks[edit]

The following excerpts come from the original liner notes and are statements made by Mingus himself.

On "Haitian Fight Song", Mingus said "I'd say this song has a contemporary folk feeling. My solo in it is a deeply concentrated one. I can't play it right unless I'm thinking about prejudice and hate and persecution, and how unfair it is. There's sadness and cries in it, but also determination. And it usually ends with my feeling: 'I told them! I hope somebody heard me.’ ".[3][4]

"Blue Cee" is a standard blues in two keys, C and B, "but that's not noticeable and it ends up in C, basically", he said and continued "I heard some Basie in it and also some church-like feeling".

"Reincarnation of a Lovebird" is a composition dedicated to Bird. "I wouldn't say I set out to write a piece on Bird. [...] Suddenly I realize it was Bird. [...] In one way, the work isn't like him. It's built on long lines and most of his pieces were short lines. But it's my feeling about Bird. I felt like crying when I wrote it."

"The Clown" tells the story of a clown "who tried to please people like most jazz musicians do, but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with his blowing his brains out with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; leaves it more up to the listener."

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Charles Mingus.

  1. "Haitian Fight Song" - 11:57
  2. "Blue Cee" - 7:48
  3. "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" - 8:31
  4. "The Clown" - 12:29

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Passions of a Woman Loved" - 9:52
  2. "Tonight at Noon" - 5:57



  1. ^ Billboard Sept 16, 1957
  2. ^ Huey, Steve (2011). "The Clown - Charles Mingus | AllMusic". Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  3. ^ NAT, HENTOFF (1957). "Charles Mingus - The Clown". Retrieved 2016-09-27. 
  4. ^ JACKSON, MAURICE. ""Friends of the Negro! Fly with Me, The Path Is Open to the Sea": Remembering the Haitian Revolution in the History, Music, and Culture of the African American People." Early American Studies 6.1 (2008): 59-103. Web.