Goodbye Porkpie Hat by Dan.Gutwein published on 2011/02/03 04:33:12 +0000 In the 1960s, Columbia Records dropped Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus from its roster, and the famed clubs of New York, even Birdland, would close. This dirge-like composition of Charles Mingus, first recorded in 1959, would eventually mourn this sad state of affairs - brought about by the encroachment of commercialism on jazz. However, Charles Mingus wasn't making predictions of jazz's coming commercial decline: he was grieving over the March, '59 death of Lester Young, one of the three most important jazz tenor saxophonists in history. When Young married Mary Berkley, bassist Gene Ramey, his best man, gave him a pork-pie hat--an odd chapeau where the part above the brim barely rises over it. It became Young's visual trademark, and Mingus' mournful salute properly notes the loss of the visible Lester Young. Thank goodness we haven’t lost his music.