If you're already heavy into Mingus and enjoy the "April 1964" sextet you'll have to get this. The performance is inspired and joyful and everyone in the band is given ample room to contribute. Those familiar with the Town Hall date that followed in April and the European tour after that will know most of these titles and their arrangements for this group. Somewhat less familiar will be a driving version of Dukes "A-Train" and a real surprise in a cruising performance of Jitterbug waltz that gives Dolpy a chance to blow over some up tempo changes on his flute which he does very well indeed.
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. I was also surprised at how fully formed the arrangements of these pieces were and how much liberty the group was already taking with them a month before Town Hall and the Europe tour. I was thinking they'd be a bit stiffer than what I was familiar with from three weeks later but that is not the case. A lot of these must have been played regularly at the Five Spot Café prior to this date at Cornell.
Unfortunatly this release will probably not get hyped as much as the Coltrane/Monk Carnegie Hall find a couple of years ago likely because of the cuts being so lengthy and musically dynamic in addition to this group having been heard on previous releases but this is certainly music of the same caliber.
Probably not the best choice for an introduction to Mingus but if you're already into the man's music, you'll want to pick this up.