Mingus at Antibes by Charles Mingus
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The fleet group that Charles Mingus brought to the Antibes jazz festival in 1960 was likely the most powerful group, pound-for-pound, that the bassist ever led. The front line was comprised of trumpeter Ted Curson, alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy, and, for this stint, tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin. Without a piano for most of this Antibes concert, the band relied on a combustion that Mingus created with his antiphonal compositions and a gospel bent. Dolphy, Curson, and Ervin sound jubilant on "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" and then full of longing on "Prayer for Passive Resistance." But it's on "Folk Forms I" that you hear how much leap the group has without a formal harmonic anchor. Mingus chugs along, using his lowest-end bustle as a backbone for rhythmic variations across the top. As usual, drummer Dannie Richmond cracks the percussion with speed-shifting exactness. As if that all weren't enough, one of bebop's quirkier architects, Bud Powell, joins the band for a touching read of "I'll Remember April." --Andrew Bartlett