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The Mingus Excerpt

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“The Mingus Excerpt" shows a sweet side of Charles Mingus that few people saw or could imagine. After all, his nickname was “The Angry Man of Jazz," and most biographical material supports that designation in one way or other. But for all his bluster and bombast, there was also generosity and kindness. This story describes his unlikely friendship with Steve Reichman, a young Jewish kid from the suburbs who eventually committed suicide in Morocco, at the age of 19. His parents' frantic need to understand what happened led to Mingus's surprise gift for the memorial, and ultimately to ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Mingus Speaks

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Mingus Speaks John F. Goodman 329 pages ISBN: 978-0-520-27523-2 University of California Press 2013 Many are the books written about bassist/composer and bandleader Charles Mingus--one of the most influential jazz figures of the post-war years. His own autobiographical work, Beneath the Underdog (Knopf, 1971) was a sprawling, boiling stew of memoir and fiction that remains the most revealing portrait of an artist as anguished as he was brilliant. Bouts of depression, a period in a psychiatric ward and a downturn in the fortunes of jazz saw Mingus withdraw ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Marc Myers: Why Jazz Happened

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Why Jazz HappenedMarc Myers266 pagesISBN 9780520268784University of California Press2012Jazz's timeline and the iconic figures of each of its successive stylistic movements are well known to aficionados. Less well understood, however, are the underlying conditions that created these changes. Advances in recording technologies, social trends, radio, the incursion of pop and rock, and socio-political factors all played major roles in shaping the evolution of jazz, says music journalist and jazz blogger Marc Myers. Whilst these arguments aren't entirely new, Myers brings them all together in cogent manner and gives ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition

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This special edition marks the 50th anniversary of bassist Charles Mingus' 1959 Columbia masterpiece, one of the great records in a year that included Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia), John Coltrane's Giant Steps (Atlantic) and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic). The Legacy edition is a two-CD set that also includes Mingus' second Columbia record of 1959, Mingus Dynasty, as well as alternate takes. It restores portions that were edited out on the original LPs in the interests of length and generally follows the three-CD 1998 release of The Complete 1959 Columbia Recordings, omitting just three ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um

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Drop the needle on Charles Mingus' bluesy call to prayer on “Better Git It In Your Soul" and Legacy's decision to include Ah Um in its vinyl series comes into sharp focus. There's simply no better way to hear the 1959 Columbia masterpiece than on 12" vinyl and, while it may be hard to detect the business logic behind the series, the meticulous remastering by Allan Tucker makes clear the aesthetic motive. During the last decade, the major jazz labels have essentially been in the reissue business. Archival photos and historical essays have cluttered CD liner notes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

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Confrontational, sprawling and historic, this resurrected March 1964 performance by one of his favorite bands--Johnny Coles (trumpet) and Clifford Jordan (saxophone) with favorite sons Dannie Richmond (drums), Jaki Byard (piano) and Eric Dolphy (reeds, flutes)--presents the muse of bassist Charles Mingus in all its terrible glory.

Split here between two CDs, this performance begins with two more or less solo pieces. Byard renders an amazing unaccompanied performance on “ATFW," his combination tribute to Art Tatum and Fats Waller," blistering runs into complete stops, an elegant waltz time passage and then boogie-woogie. Mingus next commands “Sophisticated Lady" in mostly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

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Following upon the first-time release of Mingus At UCLA 1965 (Universal 2007), which afforded penetrating if uneven glimpses into bassist Charles Mingus' creative process, this two-disc release offers more satisfying music and a fuller picture of an earlier and smaller but more distinguished Mingus ensemble--the fabled 1964 touring unit that would be recorded later that same year in Europe. Though Eric Dolphy understandably will always be a magnet, each of the soloists is heard to maximum advantage on this earlier American concert.

As is the case with the later date, pianist Jacki Byard opens the concert with a ...

HIGHLY OPINIONATED

The Unfinished Score

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In the act and art of writing--whether word or music, prose or poetry, a writer is almost completely lost in the creative challenge; the adventure that unfolds as words or notes start to appear on the page or in between the lines and spaces of a score sheet--both of which start off blank--is both exciting and terrifying. Perhaps this is why the so-called 'jazz' musician AND the subject of my by-now-infamous manuscript--Charles Mingus considered himself a vessel through which ideas poured in by divine intervention.The 'music' came from God, so to speak. And he just interpreted it as ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Jazz Icons Series 2 Set: Wes, Mingus, Coltrane, Dexter, Duke, Brubeck and More.

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Various Artists Jazz Icons Series 2 Box Set Reelin' in the Years 2007

While the advent of the DVD has resulted in the unearthing of a virtual treasure trove of archival live video performances, many available for the first time in any format, the quality can often be hit-and-miss. Not so with the Jazz Icons series of DVDs, the first series hitting the streets in 2006. It's been written that this outstanding series of live performances by legendary jazz artists is to jazz what the renowned Criterion Collection has been ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Jazz Icons Series 2: Vintage Concerts on DVD

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Various Artists Jazz Icons Series 2 Box Set Reelin' in the Years 2007

No matter how often you've listened to John Coltrane playing “My Favorite Things," there's nothing quite like watching him work his magic in a live performance that gives an entire new life to that Richard Rodgers melody. In crisp, glorious black and white, Coltrane's musical exploration is just one of dozens of thrilling moments in the new Jazz Icons series. These Coltrane sets from Germany and Belgium in 1960, 1961 and 1965 are especially valuable as markers in a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

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The hype factor was cranked up considerably in 2005 for the unearthed recording of two jazz legends: John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk's At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note). Things have cooled down a tad since that momentous release but just as exciting and equally important is Cornell 1964 featuring the Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy. Mingus, the powerful enigmatic bassist, band-leader and composer, was as controversial as he was dynamic. Dolphy, an absolutely brilliant musician (alto sax, bass clarinet, and flute), whose short lived musical career (he died a few months after this concert in 1964) still ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

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Like its historic 2005 discovery of the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, Blue Note Records has unearthed another masterpiece from the vaults with Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964. The double-disc collection is a monumental portrayal of an all-star group at the height of its powers, led by the bassist/composer who is widely regarded as one of the most complex, idiosyncratic and influential figures in 20th century American music. Although this band is represented on other recordings, Cornell 1964 captures a singular performance unequaled in Mingus' lengthy discography.

In A.B. Spellman's 1966 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Charles Mingus: Cornell 1964 & In Paris: The Complete America Sessions

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Charles Mingus Cornell 1964 Blue Note 2007 Charles Mingus In Paris - The Complete America Session Sunnyside 2007

One of the recent topics discussed among jazz journalists is whether it is fair to judge newly unearthed recordings against modern ones. The debate began with last year's issue of At Carnegie Hall by Monk's Quartet with Coltrane. Kind of hard to compete with that. But for this reviewer's money, a more recent ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Charles Mingus: Epitaph's Return

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Charles Mingus' place in jazz history was secured well before his death at fifty-six in 1979. He had made his mark as one of the music's great bassists, most uncompromising bandleaders and original composers. But an event that happened ten years after his death created a tsunami spreading throughout the jazz world, now known as Mingus Music.That event was the premiere of “Epitaph (available on the two-CD 1990 Columbia release of the same name), Mingus' sprawling, grand, two-hour-plus musical epic composed for an augmented, thirty-piece jazz orchestra. In 1962, Mingus disastrously attempted to record some of it during ...



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