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Charles Mingus: Live At Montreux 1975

Jerry D'Souza By

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Charles Mingus
Live At Montreux 1975
Eagle Vision
2004

Charles Mingus made his first appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 25, 1975, after he had completed recording the two land mark albums Changes One and Changes Two. It seemed natural enough that he should take the core that defined these albums to Montreux. And so we have Don Pullen on piano, Jack Walrath on trumpet, George Adams on tenor saxophone, flute and vocals, and Dannie Richmond on drums. Out of the ambit were Jackie Paris and Marcus Belgrave. No matter. What transpires is a concert that is at once enthralling and entertaining, and full of raw emotion.

The band kicks off with "Devil Blues" on which George Adams gets a chance to holler the blues in his dry, raspy, hoary voice. That's a fine start and the band gets into the groove playing with intensity, never letting a moment slip. And when it comes to "Sue's Changes" they extend the tune to 25 minutes, casting, shaping, moulding, and giving it a depth of virtuosity through the several moods it channels. Time serves to forge another masterpiece on the anvil of cogent improvisation.

There is more great music when Gerry Mulligan and Benny Bailey come in for the last two songs. Mulligan defines the art of the baritone saxophone. There he is charting his course with a rippling stream of ideas and exchanging fours with Mingus. And even as that quickens the pulse (of the viewer), there is no denying Bailey. His solos are exemplary, burning with a quiet fire, giving the music a simmering heat.

The film is in standard format and runs 85 minutes. And one can either play the whole concert or select songs. Whichever way it works, this is certainly a prime musical document.

Track Listing: For Harry Carney, Devil Blues, Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi USA, Sue's Changes, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Take The "A" Train

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