So many of the jazz great are now gone, a fact that no one would dispute but that really hits home after listening to a masterpiece such as this reissue of Charles Mingus' Mingus Moves. Not only have we lost the impetuous bassist and composer, but also drummer Dannie Richmond, tenor titan George Adams and the extraordinary pianist Don Pullen. The latter three men, in particular, were taken way before their times and one longs for the incendiary magic that the Pullen-Adams group (the seeds of which are planted here) conjured for a brief spell in the '80s.
When Mingus returned to the Atlantic label in 1973 it was with this album and this ensemble, which when taken along with the two volumes of Changes constitutes some of the finest latter day work that the bassist would ever commit to tape. Considering that the '70s proved to be a troublesome period for true jazz endeavors, the integrity and intelligence displayed here is simply as fresh and exhilarating to today's listener as it must have been when it was recorded. Mingus clearly knew he had some talented men on board and instead of the lengthy pieces that he'd often explore with his "jazz workshops," we get seven concise tracks written by Mingus, Adams, Pullen, Doug Hammond, and Sy Johnson.
Highlights here include "Wee," a nine-minute excursion that finds Adams exploring the upper register of the tenor with all the vigor and emotion that one would expect from this fire-breathing legend. But as intense as Adams' tenor could be, his flute work is all delicacy and beauty as heard on Pullen's "Newcomer." As for the pianist, his own signature slides and crushed notes make a strong statement on "Flowers For a Lady" and Mingus' "Opus 3." Rounding out a superlative selection of tunes, there's the title track that features the voices of Honi Gordon and Doug Hammond (Mingus had a thing for vocals at the time; remember that singer Jackie Paris also puts in a rare performance on Changes Two ) with excellent results. Enough said, really, this one's a classic and at its new budget price it is also simply a steal anyway you look at it.
Canon, Opus 4, Moves, Wee, Flowers For a Lady, Newcomer, Opus 3
Charles Mingus, bass; Ronald Hampton, trumpet; George Adams, tenor sax & flute; Don Pullen, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; Honi Gordon & Doug Hammond, vocals (cut 3 only)
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