Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mingus' Complete Town Hall Concert

1994 saw Blue Note release Charles Mingus, The Complete Town Hall Concert. As long a fan of the late bassist, composer and leader, it certainly was a delight to listen to and here is a review from the November 1994 Jazz & Blues Report.

Blue Note’s CD reissue of Charles Mingus’ Town Hall concert provides a more complete view than the previous releases of this material. The posthumous performance of Epitaph created some interest in hearing more of this concert, which contained some of the big band scores that formed the basis for the latter suite. The concert has a reputation of being a low point in Mingus’ career, in part because of the prior, less complete releases of this material. While rough edges are obvious, the recovery and release for the first time of much of this is revelatory. This is Mingus at his more exploratory with the turbulent, almost explosive, ensembles, shifting tempos and flavors, and searching solos perhaps best exemplified by Epitaph Part 1 with its echoes of Mingus’ Pithecanthropus Erectus at the beginning, with suggestions of Ellington later, with Eric Dolphy, Clark Terry and Britt Woodland among those featured.The relatively melodic Peggy’s Blue Skylight provides a contrasting mood. Some of the others present include Ernie Royal, Jimmy Cleveland, Charles McPherson, Buddy Collette, Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Jaki Byard and Milt Hinton. It should be caveated that this is not an album for those new to Mingus who would be better served by the Rhino double compact disc set, or Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus on Candid.

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