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Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Description

This is perhaps the most cohesive set Mingus ever made, recorded during a crisis of personnel in 1960. After many months with Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson had decided to leave. These sessions and a few to follow for Mingus and the Jazz Artists Guild were to be their last tie with Mingus. He decided to set the mood that might resemble a night in the club, hence his announcements on the recording and the reason he wanted the lights turned out during the recording. In these sessions, everyone reached and maintained that level of daring to make their instruments become extensions of themselves.

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Bassist-composer Charles Mingus had a reputation for volatile creativity and the ability to press his sidemen to their limits. That said, there's precious little in the Mingus canon that reaches the levels of intensity and unfettered invention of this extraordinary quartet session from November 1960. Mingus and saxophonist Eric Dolphy were clearly at creative peaks. Mingus's open forms facilitate Dolphy's freedom, and Dolphy's virtuosity and vocal expressiveness (laughing, whinnying, crying, shrieking) on alto and bass clarinet lend Mingus the greatest solo voice his music ever enjoyed. They push the principle of musical dialogue to the point where speech seems about to break out on "Folk Forms No. 1" and in the bass-bass clarinet chatter and grieving of "What Love."

In a way, speech does break out. "Original Faubus Fables," previously recorded as "Fables of Faubus" on Mingus Ah Um, gets the lyrics earlier denied it by Columbia Records. Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond damn Arkansas's notoriously racist governor, with the bassist calling out, "Why is he so sick and ridiculous, Dannie?" Richmond and trumpeter Ted Curson are excellent players and the sheer tumult carries them to the performances of their careers. Mingus's writing often uses tension-building repeated figures, and Dolphy and Curson virtually function as reed and brass sections at times. It contributes to the illusion of a much larger group, a cauldron of unspoken pain and fresh energies that seems almost too much for any quartet to deliver.

A fifth performance from the session, an extended-band feature for Dolphy's alto on Fats Waller's "Stormy Weather," has never been included on a CD with the rest of the session. Well worth seeking out, it currently appears on Candid Dolphy. --Stuart Broomer

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 24, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Candid Records
  • ASIN: B00004Z3R3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,082 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By C. Robinson on December 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is one of those albums where, for whatever reason, a group got together and nailed it better than they ever had in the past. They read each others minds, locked in, and played music that spoke on a higher level than any of the four guys were normally capable of. And, lucky for us, the tape was rolling. Like Miles' 'Kind of Blue', like Ellington's 'Live at Newport', this is one of those moments that demostrate what an amazing art form Jazz can be.
This was recorded during Mingus' Jazz Workshop days. His group (Dannie Richmond, Ted Curson, & Eric Dolphy) had a regular club gig, but rather than 'perform' in the traditional sense, they would basically hold live rehearsals: try new things, experiment, learn, & grow. This particular group had been together for a while and was soon coming to an end (Dolphy was about to strike out on his own). Mingus pulled them into the studio to cut what they had been doing on wax.
Although a studio recording, Mingus treats it just like a regular Workshop club date, he even talks to the 'audience' (admonishing them, in true Mingus fashion, to please be quiet so they don't bother the band!). The opening bars of 'Folk Forms No. 1' almost have a 'here we go again...' quality. No one expected the night to go as well as it did. You can hear their enthusiasm build as the album plays, the energy level increases to stirring levels as the guys realize that they are making history here.
This album contains the definitive version of 'Fables of Faubus' (with Dannie Richmond screaming furiously at Gov. Faubus), and a fiery 'All the Things You Could Be...'. However, the crowning achievement of the date is 'What Love'. This is the track that put Eric Dolphy on the map for me.
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Format: Audio CD
The engineer who transferred this landmark innovative jazz session should have turned down the job once he heard the source material provided to him. The original 1960 recording was done in two-channel format, intended for a mono mix. Around 1970, a two-channel copy generations removed from the original tape was used to master the Barnaby label LP of this recording. 30 years later, someone in the UK who has licensed the Candid label name sends this tape (or an even later generation copy) to an engineer who clearly has no conception of the historical significance of what he's listening to. Radical noise reduction completes the vandalism.

Fortunately, two alternatives to this CD exist. Pure Pleasure Records, whose products are distributed by Acoustic Sounds online, did their diligence and located a pristine mono master of the original recording. The LP is pressed on quiet 180-gram vinyl, and reveals the full emotional range of this unique session in the Mingus discography.

The other alternative is a 3-CD set entitled "Complete 1960 Net Hentoff Sessions" just released by one of the EU labels that are reissuing out-of-copyright jazz recordings. According to the Steve Hoffman forum, this set was likely copied from the Mosaic 3-CD box set of Mingus' Candid recordings. Amazon sells the "Nat Hentoff" set:

Complete 1960 Nat Hentoff Sessions

The "Mingus Presents Mingus" portion of Nat Hentoff 1960 set is derived from the superior mono tape.

If you love music, if you treasure the contributions of Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy, do yourself a favor and buy the Pure Pleasure Records reissue. If you already own this CD, get the LP and do an A/B comparison. The difference is astonishing.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorite all out no holds barred jazz albums. I'm more of a fan of the smaller units simply because you can hear each individual instrument better. Everyone playing on this simply grooves and the sound is Basic, Raw and actual seems like the live album it supposedly is.
Eric Dolphy's circular improvisation style is hear, full of sudden starts and stops in just the right places. Ted Curson's trumpet playing is just as good and in some spots, the two horns can be heard switching leads and intertwining so much that sometimes its hard to tell which is Curson and which is Dolphy.
Mingus himself obviously gets a more upfront role in this quartet than in his big band work. Some of the bass lines and solos he creates send my head bobbing and weaving.
Of course no great Mingus album is without the hard driving drums of Dannie Richmond.
As far as the actual pieces my favorite are the first two, FOLK FORMS NO. 1 and ORIGINAL FAUBUS FABLES. The former starts the album off with a bang and is more straight ahead bop style jazz than anything else on here. It is the 2nd longest piece but it goes by fast. Everyone takes a pretty even part in it as well.
ORIGINAL FAUBUS FABLES is the unrealeased version of the piece that appears on AH UM but this includes the intended vocals. A sarcastic "tribute" to racist Arkansas governor Orval Faubus who tried to prevent black students from attending the University despite federal law. Mingus and Dannie Richmond sing lines like, "Why is he so sick and ridiculous?...Dannie Richmond?" "They brain wash and teach you hate!!" the two yell. "Boo Nazi Facist Extremists!" " Governor Faubus!!" Its more something you have to hear for yourself.
WHAT LOVE takes things down a notch and is more of a ballad type piece.
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