on 30 September 2008
"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. Needless to say, Mingus and his band are in peak form throughout all three concerts, demonstrating a sustained level of emotion and improvisation that almost defies description. Equally fascinating is the rehearsal footage captured prior to the Stockholm concert, which shows Mingus shaping the overall contours of each tune while leaving plenty of room for creative interpretation. An added bonus is watching the musicians interact with one another as well as respond to Mingus' instructions. This is musical history in the making, a revelatory visual and audio document essential for anyone interested in the development of American's greatest indigenous art form. Amen.
This marvellous DVD features 3 passionate performances by the Charles Mingus band in Belgium, Norway and Sweden during a European tour in April, 1964. The bassist, composer and bandleader was at the height of his powers at this time and coaxes fantastic playing from Eric Dolphy(alto sax, flute, bass clarinet), Clifford Jordan(tenor sax), Johnny Coles(trumpet), Jaki Byard(piano) and Dannie Richmond(drums) although Johnny Coles is absent from the Belgium performance as he was taken seriously ill a couple of days earlier at a Paris concert.
Highlights include two versions of the brooding and magnificent 'Meditations on Integration' in Belgium and Sweden and a haunting 'Orange Was The Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk' in Norway.
It's sobering to reflect that all the members of this wonderful band are now dead but 'JAZZ ICONS' is to be congratulated for bringing them alive again with this atmospheric and essential DVD.
on 13 January 2009
Now, the title of this comment might be a bit tacky; I haven't really seen enough dvds to judge like that, but if you watch this, you'll get carried away as well... Whether it's one of the versions of "So Long Eric", beautiful "Meditation on Integration", or Eric Dolphy (and the rest of the band) going beserk on "Take the A Train" - this is brilliant, swinging, modern and innovative jazz music, with hard drive warm feeling and plenty more...
If you add good filming crew, brilliant liner notes, you get a 5 star item to say the least... It' interesting - Mingus arranges his quintets and quartets to sound as if they were big bands, without loosing the subtleties of a small group. But, I guess that's just one of the things that makes him such a great leader and composer. And on most of these tracks there are six musicians!
This is America's finest, recorded in Norway, Sweeden and Belgium.
on 11 August 2012
Thoroughly enjoyable. Cracking stuff. So much talent. Consistently interesting. Marvellous interplay between the musicians. So good to see Dolphy (my favourite jazz musician) playing live. Jaki Byard also fabulous. Clifford Jordan very good. Dannie Richmond too loud, but tolerable. Johnny Coles sub-Miles Davis. Mingus I can't get into though, sorry - his bass is a bit elastic band. But he brought this group together, so that's OK.
A good deal of the 1964 Mingus Europe tour concerts are now available on CD. Get them all! One of them (with Coles absent) features a riveting exchange between Jordan & Dolphy.