|Clifford Jordan||tenor sax|
|Eric Dolphy||alto sax/flute/bass clarinet|
Jazz Icons: Charles Mingus - Live in '64 available in DVD
“ 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.