January 5, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-01-05

Charles Mingus - The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65

* Charles Mingus: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (Impulse! CD)
* Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (Mosaic 7CD)
* Andrew Hill: Dance Of Death (Blue Note CD)
* Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select (d.1) (Mosaic 3CD)
* Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select – Solo (d. 1) (Mosaic 3CD)
* Billy Cobham: Spectrum (Atlantic CD)
* Weather Report: Heavy Weather (Columbia/Legacy SACD)
* Terje Rypdal: Odyssey: In Studio & In Concert (d.1-2) (ECM 3CD)
* Frank Ocean: Nostalgia Ultra (Frank Ocean MP3)†/‡
* Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Island/Def Jam CD)†/‡
* John Fahey: The Voice Of The Turtle (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: America (Takoma/4MWB 2LP)
* Gram Parsons: GP (Reprise/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (Reprise/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Grateful Dead: Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY 3-26-90+ (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, LI, NY 3-30-90 (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* The Band: Rock Of Ages (Capitol/Mobile Fidelity 2LP)
* The Velvet Underground: Scepter Studios Sessions 4-25-66 (Polydor/Universal LP)
* Deep Purple: Who Do We Think We Are! (Warner Bros. LP)
* Deep Purple: Burn (Warner Bros. LP)
* Deep Purple: Stormbringer (Warner Bros./Friday Music LP)
* Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Van Der Graaf Generator: Pawn Hearts (Virgin/4MWB LP)
* This Mortal Coil: It’ll End In Tears (4AD HDCD)
* Guided By Voices: Let’s Go Eat The Factory (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Guided By Vocies: “Doughnut For A Snowman” (side B) (GBV, Inc 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Chocolate Boy” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: Class Clown Spots A UFO (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Guided By Voices: “Keep It In Motion” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Jon The Croc” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Vocies: “Class Clown Spots A UFO” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: The Bears For Lunch (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Guided By Voices: “White Flag” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Hangover Child” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Neurosis: Honor Found In Decay (Neurot MP3)†
* Lambchop: Nixon (Merge CD)
* Lambchop: Is A Woman (Merge CD)
* Lambchop: Aw Come On (Merge CD)
* Lambchop: No You Come On (Merge CD)
* Lambchop: Damaged (Merge CD)
* Steven Wilson: Grace For Drowning (KScope BD)
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)
* Opeth: Jazz Club Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden 12-02-12 (AUD FLAC)
* Opeth: Jazz Club Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden 12-03-12 (AUD FLAC)
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* Mastodon: Remission (Relapse 2LP)
* Mastodon: Leviathan (Relapse CD)
* Mastodon: Blood Mountain (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise DVD)
* Mike Scheidt: Stay Awake (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Astra: The Black Chord (Metal Blade CD)
* The Sword: Age Of Winters (Kemado CD)
* The Sword: Gods Of The Earth (Kemado CD)
* The Sword: Apocryphon (Razor & Tie CD)
* Wild Nothing: Nocturne (Captured Tracks CD)†/‡



My Christmas present took a while to get here for some reason but Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65, finally arrived in the mailbox this week: seven CDs recorded during one of the mighty peaks of Mingus’s storied career—including over two hours of never-before-heard music. As usual with Mosaic Records, the long-running boutique label devoted to smartly-compiled jazz anthologies, this box set is meticulously annotated with liner notes by biographer Brian Priestly (as well as Mingus’s widow, Sue) and the music is presented in the best possible sound quality. I’ve only had a chance to listen to it all the way through once, but it is truly a box of treasures.

Starting off with the famous concert at New York’s Town Hall on April 4, 1964, it is finally available here in its complete form and sounding so good it’s like hearing this music for the first time. Mingus’s quintet with Jaki Byard on piano, Dannie Richmond on drums, Johnny Coles on trumpet, Clifford Jordan on tenor sax and the amazing Eric Dolphy on alto, flute and bass clarinet, is definitely one of the all-time great bands in jazz. They were well-versed in Mingus’s complex and infinitely flexible compositions yet also superlative improvisers, bringing extraordinary creativity to the extended open sections built into the works while being able to turn on a dime and return to written material. Dolphy shines in this setting, especially his duets with Mingus, which start to take on a startling vocal quality, uncannily sounding like they are conversing through their instruments. The band then took off for Europe for a three-week tour and the set picks up six days later at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. While most of this concert was officially released as two-LP set in 1985 on the French Ulysse label, it is restored here to its full length and proper sequence. While sharing a similar setlist to the Town Hall concert, a cursory comparison shows the almost-limitless potential of this astonishing group of musicians. Many of the concerts on this tour were broadcast on the radio and subsequently bootlegged but these are not included on this set, which consists of material recorded by Mingus for his fledgling Charles Mingus Enterprises, an early example of an independent self-released record label in jazz [FN1].

Dolphy stayed behind in Europe (prompting the Mingus title, “So Long, Eric”), only to die two months later from undiagnosed diabetes—a terrible loss in the history of jazz. He was only 36 years old. Mingus, however, soldiered on. The set continues with Mingus’s first appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 20, 1964 with Charles McPherson and Lonnie Hillyer taking over on alto and trumpet respectively, while John Handy sits in tenor. The soloists undoubtedly lack the fire and sheer inventiveness of Dolphy at the height of his powers, but they hold their own and the arrangements have mutated in interesting ways, as Mingus was wont to do as his personnel changed. The following year’s Monterey set is included here for the first time ever, an abbreviated but fascinating set of new music for an octet including Julius Watkins on French horn and Howard Johnson on tuba [FN2]. Finally, we get an entire two-hour performance at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 13, 1965. While some of this music was independently released (in miniscule quantities) as My Favorite Quintet, here we get the complete concert (in stereo!)—and it’s a barn-burner. By this time the new front line had settled into their respective roles and the music rivals the intensity of the Dolphy quintet while expertly executing the vast and twisted repertoire (check out the hilarious send-up of “Cocktails for Two,” a tune Mingus would call when he suspected the audience was more interested in drinking than listening to his music).

All that said, this lovingly prepared box set is not meant for Mingus neophytes. Live recordings are always a dicey proposition—especially for a shoe-string operation in the early ‘60s—and technical anomalies abound, including spots of significant distortion and noise, all of which might put most people off. However, if you’re like me and already own the essential discography (plus a number of bootlegs), you absolutely need this set. And don’t get me wrong: the sound quality on the Town Hall, Amsterdam and Minneapolis tapes is just fine—and way better than what was previously available. Even if you think you have most of this stuff, the two hours of extra material makes it essential. Limited to an edition of 7500 copies, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 is only available by mail order directly from Mosaic. If you’re a Mingus (and/or Dolphy) freak, you can’t afford to miss it!


[FN1] But see, also, The Great Concert of Charles Mingus (Verve) taken from the April 19, 1964 concert at the Theatre Champs-Elysees, Paris as well as Charles Mingus in Europe Vols.1-2, recorded at the Wuppertal Town Hall on April 26, 1964, released in cooperation with the Mingus estate on Enja Records.

[FN2] Due to circumstances beyond Mingus’s control, the September 18, 1965 set at Monterey was only about thirty minutes long, prompting the eventual release of Music Written for Monterey 1965, Not Heard…Played in its Entirety at UCLA, which sadly, is not included on this Mosaic box. It is, however, still in print as a two-CD set on Sunnyside—and I am planning to pick it up as soon as possible.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Yeah, I am -dying- to get this set! And yes you should grab the UCLA set, it's amazing....you get Lonnie Hillyer AND Sun Ra alumnus Hobart Dotson on trumpet.

I have almost all of the gigs from the 1964 European tour, and the amazing thing is that in spite of the similar material every performance is unique and exciting ...well, hey that's jazz isn't it? But these performances are truly something special.