Listen: Charles Mingus – ‘Peggy’s Blue Skylight’


Premiered a few days ago on Billboard, we are excited to reveal the first full track from long lost Charles Mingus tapes, recorded live in Detroit, 1973.

Heralding the highly anticipated Charles Mingus vinyl / CD box set Jazz in Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden, a previously unreleased concert at the intimate Detroit venue, BBE Music releases the first full track: “Peggy’s Blue Skylight”.

This composition was written on the piano at the Hitchcock Estate in upstate New York. Charles named the piece after an exchange with Peggy Hitchcock: “We were friends. She wanted to take the blue plastic shield from the cockpit of a fighter plane and replace her skylight with it, so the sky would always be blue. The government wouldn’t let her do it.”

First recorded in 1961 for the classic Mingus album Oh Yeah, “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” appears playful and expressive, with Mingus on piano. Over the years, the piece became a vehicle for exploration and reflected Mingus’s iconic changing moods.

Here we are given the opportunity to experience a snapshot just over a decade later in which Mingus and his quintet delivered a dramatically different performance, this time with Mingus on bass. Trumpeter Joe Gardner and pianist Don Pullen inject fresh energy through standout solos. Saxophonist John Stubblefield shines in one of his only recorded appearances with Mingus, while innovative drummer Roy Brooks propels the performance with a sense of urgency and closes out with a jaw-dropping solo of his own. Possessing a playing style that still seems almost unfeasibly melodic and immediately distinctive after all these years, Charles Mingus subtly commands, unselfishly assists, and underpins throughout, giving plenty of room to his musicians whilst quietly exuding his sheer brilliance.

Discovered by DJ Amir Abdullah as part of his ongoing exploration of the Strata Records vaults, these long-forgotten tapes capturing Mingus’s week-long residency at Detroit’s Strata Gallery were originally recorded for broadcast on local station WDET-FM. The entire concert is to be released by BBE Music on November 2nd 2018 as a x5 LP vinyl box set, x5 CD box set and expanded digital package.