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Jazz Icons: Charles Mingus Live in '64

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jazz Icons: Charles Mingus showcases three exceptional concerts performed in April 1964 featuring his most celebrated lineup--Jaki Byard (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums), Johnny Coles (trumpet), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax) and the great Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute and bass clarinet). Recorded within an eight-day span, less than three months before Dolphy's death, the three concerts showcase Mingus's visionary leadership and the band's incredible depth and diversity with unique performances and arrangements of classics including "So Long Eric" and the groundbreaking "Meditations On Integration".


"Jazz Icons is doing for jazz what the Criterion Collection has done for classic and important films". -- Jazz Times

Jazz Icons represents the new millennium's most welcome shot in the arm for the music's soul -- Newsday.com, October 14, 2007, Gene Seymour

The iconoclast among icons. This DVD gives witness to three of Mingus's finest live performances, with one of his most potent groups on fire. -- Bass Player Magazine, November 2007

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jaki Byard, Eric Dolphy, Dannie Richmond, Charles Mingus, Clifford Jordan
  • Format: Best of, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Jazz Icons
  • DVD Release Date: September 4, 2007
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,596 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Conklin on April 22, 2008
If you've ever been intrigued by the music of Charles Mingus, one of the greatest composers and innovators in the history of jazz, you owe it to yourself to get this DVD. I've already watched it 3 times, and will be enjoying it (and others in this Naxos series) for years to come. The footage, all from Mingus's European tour of 1964, includes a live concert and other performances made for European television. The three venues (Belgium, Norway, and Sweden) were filmed within a one week period. The camera work is quite good, and the quality of the film is certainly OK for its time. You get plenty for your money: the DVD is a full two hours long, much longer than most others in this series.

This group was arguably Mingus's best line-up ever, and the tour was easily one of the high-points in the great bassist's long and productive career. It's a real pleasure to watch this charismatic leader play and interact with his fellow musicians; he was clearly having fun and receiving satisfaction from what this remarkable band was producing. There's plenty of footage of the great Eric Dolphy--much more than on the John Coltrane Jazz Icons DVD. Clifford Jordan, Johnny Coles, Jaki Byard, and Dannie Richmond all play well and are fun to watch. One thing that seems especially notable about this group (besides the collection of talent) is that everyone has a somewhat different style, yet the conglomeration results in some of the most interesting (and complex) jazz music every created by a small group.

Although one might wish for a greater variety of compositions (there are a total of 6), the DVD apparently does include most of the songs the group was playing on this tour. There are 4 different versions of "So Long Eric" and 3 of "Meditations on Integration," but these are performed quite differently and it's interesting to hear the varied arrangements and improvising from venue to venue. In summary: Exhilarating !
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The Charles Mingus Live in '64 Jazz Icon DVD is an incredible record of one of the best jazz ensembles to ever play together. When the sextet performed Meditations in Belgium, they played flawlessly, with Eric Dolphy standing out on both flute and bass clarinet and Mingus experimenting with techniques and timbres on bass and with dropping objects onto the piano's strings during the performance. I am so glad to have the DVD so I can study what the ensemble accomplished together musically. It is especially important for me to have a visual record of these last performances of Eric Dolphy's. Since he died in June of 1964, these are precious records of a musical genius whose life was cut short by undiagnosed diabetes.

Jaki Byard sounds amazing on the recordings also. His knowledge of all types of music seeps into his improvisations. One minute he's evoking Jelly Roll Morton and the next Tchaikovsky and Alban Berg, and Asian flavors blossom, too. Clifford Jordan is an understated player, and he's technically precise with a nice tone quality. His way of working fit perfectly with Mingus' overwhelming and fiery personality. Richmond, an ebullient drummer with an obvious love for playing with this group of musicians follows Mingus well and changes the tempi with precision in Meditations. Coles' trumpet playing is also undertstated, yet beautifully expressive. It's clear Miles Davis had a strong influence on his playing with the bending of notes and lovely tone quality.

Eric Dolpy and Mingus are the stars, however. Dolphy blows my mind with his virtuosity on three instruments. His flute playing is lovely and nuanced and when he grabs the bass clarinet another side of him comes to the fore. Pyrotechnics is the word that comes to mind. His alto saxophone playing is equally mind-numbing.

Mingus put together one of the best groups of musicians ever and composed music perfectly suited to their talents.
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"Charles Mingus: Live in '64" is one of the strongest entries yet in Naxos' superb Jazz Icons DVD collection. The series features historical concert footage recorded by far-sighted European television stations of some of the biggest names in jazz history. Mingus--certainly one of the four or five most important jazz creators--is captured during his 1964 concert tour in Belgium, Norway and Sweden working with what was arguably his greatest band ever. Multi-reedman Eric Dolphy, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, trumpeter Johnny Coles, pianist Jaki Byard and drummer Dannie Richmond were intuitive and brilliant interpreters of Mingus' unique music, which synthesized blues, gospel, bop, New Orleans traditional and early '60s modernism. (Next to Mingus, Dolphy was the most important artist in this band, as well as the most adventurous, able to adapt to mainstream musical surroundings while seamlessly exploring his own radical directions.) Each musician was also flexible enough to meet the unique demands of their mercurial and unpredictable bandleader. Mingus preferred to communicate his compositions verbally rather than write them down, frequently changed their structure, tempo and duration (often during a performance), and granted a large measure of creative latitude to his band members in bringing his music to life. This approach contributed to the exhilarating, spontaneous quality of his concerts and recordings, and helped ensure that no two versions of the same tune ended up sounding quite the same. In fact, two of Mingus' seminal compositions--"So Long, Eric" and "Meditations on Integration"--are played multiple times on this DVD, yet each performance emerges as a distinct and original incarnation.Read more ›
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