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Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964

Mark F. Turner By

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Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964 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 leaves a vivid mark in jazz today. The chance to hear them together is a treat for longtime admirers and newcomers alike.

But this is more than just a meeting of two giants because we also get a chance to witness Mingus' illustrious quintet which included lesser known yet stunning musicians: Jaki Byard (piano), Johnny Coles (trumpet), Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone), and Dannie Richmond (drums). Mingus always ran a tight ship, tolerating nothing less than excellence. With this band, the musicians not only meet his criteria but also deliver some stellar performances.

The two-CD recording covers everything from Mingus' epic "Fables of Faubus, (written as a direct protest against Civil Rights injustices in 1957) to a jubilant rendition of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling as the band engages in some light hearted fun. There is an air that the vibe was stress free (in contrast to some of Mingus' engagements) and that they were clearly enjoying themselves and the receptive audience.

There are many highlights from everyone: Byard's exhaustive range on "ATFW You —included bebop, ragtime, classical and more. Mingus' gregarious fretwork—injected with humor and an unflinching presence on "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk as Coles' sweet muted trumpet harmonizes with Jordan's warm tenor and Dolphy's throaty bass clarinet. Each voice glows against the blues/swing melody.

They "Take The A Train to new destinations of swing as Mingus and Richmond thrill the audience with boisterous solos. Dolphy played jazz flute like no one else, as heard on "Jitterbug Waltz, brings the recording to a satisfying conclusion. There are many bright moments on this resurrected historical document. The shadows of these players still looms today and this concert is a testament of their greatness that will hopefully endure for years to come.


Track Listing: CD1: ATFW; Sophisticated Lady; Fables of Faubus; Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk; Take the A Train. CD2: Meditations; So Long Eric; When Irish Eyes Are Smiling; Jitterbug Waltz.

Personnel: Charles Mingus: bass; Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet; Johnny Coles: trumpet; Clifford Jordan: tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard: piano; Dannie Richmond: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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