Good­bye Pork Pie Hat is a Charles Min­gus jazz stan­dard, first record­ed by his band in 1959, and since then per­formed by many oth­ers, with voice and with­out. The ver­sion clos­est to my heart is a Jeff Beck electric-guitar in­stru­men­tal. [Wait, didn’t you have one of those yes­ter­day!? -Ed.] [You say that like it’s a bad thing. -T] The song was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived of as a trib­ute to Lester Young, a sax­o­phon­ist, re­cent­ly de­ceased back then, who had worn one.

I’ve loved Mingus’ mu­sic since I first heard it. He al­ways had a big band and their big show­pieces al­ways in­volved play­ing re­al­ly loud and re­al­ly fast; as close as jazz ev­er gets to head-bangin’ met­al mu­sic. I wrote a blog piece about Bet­ter Get Hit In Your Soul, one of those loud/­fast num­ber­s, and gen­er­al­ly about the al­bum it’s on, Min­gus at An­tibes, which I’ve al­ways thought to be his mas­ter­piece (but Pork Pie Hat is on Min­gus Ah Um from 1959, an­oth­er to­tal­ly ex­cel­lent record­ing.)

Mingus Ah Um
· · ·
Wired by Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck’s ver­sion is on Wired from 1976, which might just be the best all-guitar-instrumentals col­lec­tion ev­er record­ed by any­one, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of Blow by Blow, his pre­vi­ous al­bum, which we vis­it­ed yes­ter­day. Pork Pie Hat is one of the high­lights on Wired.

It’s not hard to start a food fight about “greatest gui­tarist ever”  —  I mean, what’s the best fla­vor of ice cream any­way?  —  but Beck’s name is al­ways go­ing to be in that con­ver­sa­tion. And this record will be of­fered as ev­i­dence ev­i­dence.

The record­ing has some ir­ri­tat­ing tape hiss, but get past that and it’s the kind of thing you want to dim the lights for, lean back and turn the stereo up as loud as you can get away with.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. For the orig­i­nal Min­gus ver­sion: Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon, iTunes. For the Beck ver­sion: Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon, iTunes. Video links; Min­gus in 1975, Part 1 (after a cou­ple of min­utes of get­ting or­ga­nized), Part 2; the band in­cludes Dan­nie Rich­mond and Ger­ry Mul­li­gan. And here’s a mus­cu­lar ver­sion by Jeff in 2002. Fi­nal­ly, here’s Joni Mitchell with her all-star band no­tably in­clud­ing Pas­to­rius, putting words to the mu­sic.


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From: Ted (Mar 28 2018, at 11:49)

For a long time my favourite version was the (double-tracked?) acoustic guitar one by John McLaughlin, at the end of My Goal's Beyond (1970). I think it still is, but I've also discovered Samantha Wells' on YouTube.


From: David W Taylor (Mar 29 2018, at 18:10)

I spent my formative years listening to this tune.

My favorite version is from Pentangle on the Sweet Child album.

Try it. You'll like it.


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