CHARLES MINGUS SEXTET: Cornell 1964 – Blue Note Records

by | Aug 3, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

CHARLES MINGUS SEXTET: Cornell 1964 – Blue Note Records/EMI 0946 3 92210 2 8, about 2 hours ****:

(Charles Mingus, bass; Eric Dolphy, sax and flute; Jaki Byard, piano; Johnny Coles, trumpet; Dannie Richmond, drums; Clifford Jordan, sax)

Those Cornell kids never heard anything like this. And with the death of Eric Dolphy three months later, they never would again. Cornell 1964 is another one of those “found” jazz albums that have been popping up lately. Sue Mingus, the widow of the immortal Charles, found this mono tape that nobody knew existed. It’s a gem, with great cuts of Fables of Faubus and Orange was the Color of her Dress, both containing stunningly explored bass solos by Mingus. Orange begins raucously, with the sextet members playfully shouting back and forth, then embarking on rhythmic forays that amused the live audience (and hopefully will the present-day one).

Their 17-minute cut of  Take the “A” Train is one ride you’ll be glad to take. It proceeds at a leisurely pace, swaying beguilingly like a close dance with a sensuous partner. Sophisticated Lady features the innovate, style-spanning piano work of Jaki Byard—free style at first, a little bit of stride, finally neo-ragtime. Disc Two has its own treasures, like the eerily named So Long Eric, with impressive solo work by all (including Dolphy). In one segment, the brass players play ensemble in a retro (even for then) big-band style. Nice drum solo by Dannie Richmond. There is a peppy and slightly bizarre cover of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. Dolphy begins Jitterbug Waltz with the same sprightly notes as Flute Thing, recorded by The Blues Project in Projections (1966). Hmmm. Then of course it mutates into the stellar solos that Mingus’ bands were famous for. The live atmosphere does produce raw results at times. In Meditations the musicians get stuck in a five-note groove for over a minute – twice– but otherwise the piece is strong, improvisationally speaking. I only wish I could make out the verbal patter that caused so much laughter in the audience.
TrackList – Disc: 1 =
1. Opening  2. ATFW You  3. Sophisticated Lady  4. Fables Of Faubus  5. Orange Was the Coulour Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk  6. That the ‘A’ Train 
Disc: 2 = 
1. Meditations  2. So Long Eric  3. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling  4. Jitterbug Waltz

— Peter Bates

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