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I have read several different accounts of Charles Mingus' reaction to Jeff Beck's cover of Goodbye Porkpie Hat. One account says he liked it and sent Jeff a note saying this while another says he didn't like it because Jeff "didn't play the changes". What are your thoughts on this? Does or does not Jeff play the changes correctly? I always felt a very bluesy approach suits the song.

Did Jeff play the changes?

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Whatever you say is likely correct, but in a documentary Jeff Beck shows a letter he got from Mingus praising and thanking him for his version. I believe the doc is called ‘Still on the Run’.

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I have no information about what Mingus thought, but the fact is that Jeff Beck doesn't play the Mingus changes during the solo.

Good-bye Pork Pie Hat is a 12-bar blues, but the chord changes have a lot of substitutions. On Jeff Beck's version, the band plays these substitute changes during the melody, but just play traditional blues changes during Beck's solo. To his credit, Beck does make the blues changes, but they are not the same changes John Handy soloed over in the famous Mingus version.

So, from Mingus' point of view, it is factually true that Jeff Beck didn't "play the changes."

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Peter is correct. Terrific solo on a terrific record, but the changes he played over were for a simple minor blues.

I only wanted to add that the title refers to the great tenor man Lester Young, who had died a couple of before Mingus wrote and recorded the tune, and who was ubiquitously seen in a Porkpie hat - true hipster that he was. Funny that Lester Young already had a long established nickname: Prez (or Pres), short for The President. I guess Goodbye, Prez was too on the money for that next gen hipster, Mingus.

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No, they weren’t simple blues changes in the solo section. You’ll hear variations on a D major, then Bb/C, back to D then Ab/Bb, He connects the dots beautifully here, one scale will not work in this situation

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  • You are correct. – user50691 Sep 25 '20 at 15:39
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First of all it is a Blues tune so "a bluesy approach" should be taken. It is a 12 bar pattern with the significant changes in the expected places. The Real Book changes (which may not be "real", or true) are very rich, lots of cycle extensions and substitutions. That makes the song feel very deep in my opinion, not just another blues but something very unique. I have played both versions, the Mingus original, and Beck's solo. I can say that while there are some interesting changes in Beck's version, in fact his deviates from the Blues changes, they are not the same as the Mingus version. In my opinion Mingus' is more "bluesy" than Beck's.

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Nowadays, when performing Pork Pie, Beck segues into “Brush With the Blues” from his Who Else album, which is a basic 12 bar, but I agree with Rob H as to the changes from his original version. Also, I’ve heard variations of the solo section, using other than the standard changes, done by others, including Mingus. True, many versions stick to the actual changes of the tune during head and solo sections but, one version I prefer on the solo section, is ||Fm7 |Bb7 |Fm7 | Bb7 |Eb7 |Db7 |GbM7 |C7 |Fm7 |Bb7 |Fm7 |Bb7 |B7 |Bb7 |C7 |Db7 |Fm7 |Bb7 |GbM7 Bb7 |B7 C7 ||. I think I copied this progression from a Mingus recording although , I do not recall the album title.

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