The Clown is an album by Charles Mingus released in September 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. All the tracks were recorded on March 12, 1957, except for "The Clown", recorded on February 13 of the same year.
The Clown refines and heightens that gift; instead of just writing heads that provide launch points for solos, Mingus tries to evoke something specific with every piece, and even his most impressionistic forays have a strong storytelling quality. In fact, The Clown's title cut makes that explicit with a story verbally improvised by Jean Shepherd (yes, the same Jean Shepherd responsible for A Christmas Story) from a predetermined narrative.
Man, there was this clown, and he was a real happy guy, a real happy guy, he had all these greens and all these yellows and all these oranges bubbling around inside of him. And he had just one thing he wanted in this world, he just wanted to make people laugh, that’s all he wanted out of this world, he was a real happy guy. Let me tell you about this clown, he used to a raise a sweat every night out on the stage and just wouldn't stop, that’s how hard he worked. He was trying to make people laugh
I vaguely recall reading a statistic stating that around 80% of all proposed and legitimate phobias only occur in the United States. While a part of me finds this hard to believe, another part of me realizes that it’s probably true. Americans are not only more exposed to all kinds of media than perhaps any other country, but the images, sounds, bold letters, and the oh-so-bright lights are more over the top; more intense. So you can imagine my troubled, almost compromised point of view when dissecting jazz legend Charles Mingus and his eponymous album The Clown. Nonetheless I am in love with this record. It was recorded during a stage when Mingus seemed interested in exploring technical proficiency rather than the personality and ideas of his compositions.