Rhythm & Views 

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy

Hard-bop heaven isn't far away on this two-CD set, documenting a hitherto forgotten live performance referenced by the title. Besides the fact that virtually no one knew the tapes of this concert existed before Mingus' widow found them, this release is remarkable for several reasons.

First is the playful spirit with which leader and composer Mingus and his top-notch band tackle the often-knotty music. He's in fine form on the bass fiddle, too, sounding spry and limber on a solo rendition of "Sophisticated Lady."

Second is the fact that Mingus generously allows his players extended solo showcases, including the unaccompanied piano piece "ATFW You" on which Jaki Byard channels Art Tatum and Fats Waller, combining ragtime and a modern sensibility.

Perhaps most important, this date came only three months before the daring genius Dolphy (who followed it with a European tour with this band) died at 36. Dolphy plays alto sax, bass clarinet and flute, and throughout the concert sounds like a man whose soul is on fire, displaying his heralded ability to seamlessly balance abstract free-jazz explorations with clear-headed chord improvisation.

Those looking for improv revelations will likely want to turn to the two half-hour pieces--the dark contours of "Fables of Faubus" on Disc 1, and the amazing "Meditations" on Disc 2. But here also are standards such as "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," "Jitterbug Waltz" and "Take the 'A' Train," during which the players run down the melodies in almost-quaint fashion before taking off on wondrous flights. Robust and thrilling, this album could be described as avant-garde swing.

More by Gene Armstrong

  • Primer

    Tony Furtado
    • May 29, 2014
  • Wills Meets Reinhardt

    L.A.'s Cow Bop blends bebop and Western swing into a superbly danceable combo
    • May 22, 2014
  • Finding (the Eighth) Mr. Right

    Superb performances drive the '60s satire of Live Theatre Workshop's Loot
    • May 15, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

The Range

Tucson Jazz Festival 2021 lineup announced

Watch Live: OSIRIS-REx Sample Collection Today

Public Brewhouse Closes After 5 Years

More »

Latest in Rhythm & Views

  • Rhythm & Views

    American Monoxide “In Flight Mode” (People In A Position To Know)
    • Dec 18, 2014
  • Rhythm & Views

    Wight Lhite “Beyond the Satellites” (Paisley Shirt Records)
    • Dec 11, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

Facebook Activity

© 2020 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation