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Cornell 1964 Live
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What a concert those lucky students were given:
"ATFW You": Jaki Byard's fleet, witty parade of Art Tatumisms and Fats Wallerisms.
"Sophisticated Lady": for bass. Mingus never stopped paying tribute to Duke Ellington.
"Fables of Faubus": A Weillian send-up of Orval Faubus, segregationist governor of Arkansas. The lyrics here are, alas, inaudible. (A sample: "Two, four, six, eight, they brainwash and teach you hate.") A very lengthy "Fables," dipping into various streams of musical Americana along the way. Here, as elsewhere, Mingus and Richmond are the most inventive bass-and-drums pairing in jazz, changing tempos and textures and thereby pushing soloists to dig deeper: the rhythm section as personal trainer.
"Orange Was the Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk": One of Mingus's most beautiful compositions, with overtones of Ellington, "Blues in the Night," and "Body and Soul."
"Take the 'A' Train": I think that it's here that everything rises to a very high level of energy. As Clifford Jordan begins his second chorus, Mingus calls to Johnny Coles and Eric Dolphy: "Join in," and the band takes off. Jordan is the great surprise on this performance and on the rest of the recording, playing with greater intensity and freedom than on the European tour recordings (or at least the ones that I've heard).Read more ›
The music is scorchingly good, endlessly inventive, full of surprises and played with a fire that only rarely makes it onto record.
The only caveat is that the remarkable sextet in question was extensively documented, performing much the same repertoire. It included Eric Dolphy - one of the supreme jazz figures of the era - on flute, alto and bass clarinet in towering form throughout on extended versions of "Fable of Faubus" and "Meditations", but the rest of the group are not far behind.
If you don't already know mid-'60s Mingus, this double CD is an excellent place to begin. The band, which also boasted Jaki Byard on piano, Johnny Coles trumpet, and Clifford Jordan, tenor, was evidently feeling euphoric that night and the sound is excellent.
And then there's Mingus himself, playing at the top of his form.
Even those who already have a row of recordings by this very ensemble may be tempted by, for example, the wild, impromptu version of "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" played by Mingus for the first and last time in honour of St Patrick's Day.
One of the notable things is that Mingus and company are in a very good mood. During a Dannie Richmond drum solo there a waves of laughter coming from the audience. It's a shame there isn't a video that'd show why. Mingus's stage patter also gets laughs. Everyone in the band also throws in musical quotes from all over the place. In addition to jazz quotes, there are bits of children's, folk, and popular songs. This is recommended for all Mingus fans and anyone looking for a good jazz concert CD.
Sound quality is very listenable falling somewhere between the 64 Town Hall date and some of the April 64 European bootlegs. For the most part everyone is audible with only the trumpet, piano or bass being lost in the mud at times when the band is playing loudly. Little to no high frequency content overall and Meditations has some dropout, phasing and mid range "swooshing" problems at times but this becomes irrelevant since the music is so good.
One of the things this rhythm section had a strong ability to do was up the ante on an already hard swinging grove and this happens numerous times on these discs where in the middle of someone's solo Byard and Richmond will take Mingus' lead and push the groove up to the next level inspiring the soloist to do sing out and really listen to himself.
Surprisingly we only hear Dolphy on alto on "So Long Eric" during the ensemble passages and even more surprising, he doesn't solo on this piece or it was edited out (although I didn't notice an edit). Dolphy is on bass clarinet or flute for all other selections.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Was a gift, but I'm familiar with the CD. Not as great of a selection as on the "Great Concert of Charles Mingus", but the audio quality for a live recording is better on... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Larry Alex
Despite the presence of talent and genius this was not that enjoyable as the recording balance and presence doesn't do justice to the complexity of the music (particularly Coles's... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Barry Rosenberg
Big Mingus fan. Great live performance from the mid 60s.Published 13 months ago by Robere Le Huquet
This is as good a document of Mingus on stage as anything that exists in the catalog (and I have several of those). Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by Douglas Flummer
The version of Fables of Faubus is fantastic. Great bass clarinet from Doplhy. It was an incredibly creative period for all of the participants with the secret weapon being the... Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by T. Bombara
While cleaning out my CD collection the other day this disc appeared out of nowhere, so it found its way into the CD player... Read morePublished on May 28, 2011 by tick tock
It's a brilliant find; an early, previously practically forgotten outing of a classic Mingus bend (if you believe Gary Giddins who wrote the lovely liner notes)... Read morePublished on November 16, 2009 by Nikica Gilic