Atlantic Records’ release last Friday of the CD set “Mingus at Carnegie Hall” enables, for the first time, the full concert by guitarist and conductor Charles Mingus with two different groups on January 19, 1974. To me, it also solves a mystery and hits A beautiful personal spot of cherished memories. That 1974 concert album—a single LP featuring a jam session by nonet on two classic Duke Ellington-related themes—released in January 1975, and it was the first review version I ever received. I was in high school at the time, and was part of the announcer crew at the school’s pseudo-radio station based on the school’s intercom (which “broadcasts” during class). During one of my on-air sessions, I ran a brief sample of the Mingus LP and gave a quick, enthusiastic review. But when the album came out on CD in 1996, outline notes, written by Andrew Homesey, made it clear that the album was only the second part of the concert, and that the first half featured Mingus, a smaller group, playing at once. From his own books. I was immediately eager to hear those additional recordings – but in those notes, Homzy also suggested that they weren’t released due to Strongly negative review of those offers in times. Now, almost half a century later, the entire concert is here, to correct those previously unreleased performances and to tell a powerful story about Mingus’ art and place in music at the time.
The jam sessions featured on the original album were significant from two different perspectives. From a practical point of view, they united Mingus with three saxophonists who were also three of the greatest members of his former band: John Handy, Charles Macpherson and, above all, Rahsan Roland Kirk. Technically speaking, they reaffirmed the crucial relationship between Mingus and his primary musical successor, Ellington, who was still alive at the time (died May 1974). Featuring translations of “C Jam Blues” (composed by Ellington) and “Perdido” (composed by Ellington trombone player Juan Tezol), the jam session brings together several generations of musicians diverse in style to do just that. The three saxophonists, all born in the 1930s, were among the leading designers of post-pop, modeled on musicians such as Sonny Rollins and Jackie McClain. (With his conscientious element of theatrical show and thematic comedy, Kirk is one of the quintessential figures of modern jazz—a modernist bridge between Fats Waller and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.) Join three musicians in the regular Mingus group. – saxophonist George Adams, baritone saxophonist Hammett Beloit, and pianist Don Boleyn – who were all part of the avant-garde, the pioneers of the second generation of free jazz. Also featured was trumpeter John Vadis, a grumpy precocious schoolboy and emulator who played bebop with honest passion and neoclassical virtuosity – and was only twenty years old at the time.
This jam session itself is a reel of almost non-stop suspense and inspiration, and the musicians embrace the playful vibe of the competitive show ethos adding to the reunion vibe and link it to the famous ballroom traditions of Ellington parties. Highlights, in “Perdido,” include Bluiett’s screeching attack, Adams’ sharp groove in the blues alternating with high-speed expansions and dropping the house down with some serious fun by flaunting breath-length and finger-speed, while Vadis shouts tips behind him. In “C Jam Blues,” Handy, on the tenor, begins with a solo that’s been among my favorites since the time I first heard it, a blue bravado of inexhaustible melody, a single that can be sung from beginning to end, with the entire band Make fun of him along on the eggs. Adams begins at the height of dissonant complexity, shoves some quiet melody, then blasts back into the stratosphere of high-intensity expressiveness with drummer, Danny Richmond (who’s been performing with Mingus since 1957), condensing the beats to a match. Riding with a strut groove broken by his angry, murderous, and dangerous satire of Vanguard Adams, Kirk intertwines with a spinning trapeze with the colossal explosions of tenor saxes (aircraft engines? Hellhounds?), along with a quote from John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Summarizing the theme splits into an extended collective cadenza, and ends the party with four minutes of energizing off-beat and wailing (with Kirk on whistle) before reaching for the high-wire jubilation of one of Kirk’s extended work and circulating-breathing drones. The original album had “C Jam Blues” as the A side; The re-release follows the concert sequence, with this track as the culmination of the evening’s events.
The newly-released first half of the party—which features a cast of Adams, Beloit, Vadis, Pauline, Richmond, and Mingus—displays both the group’s daily preoccupations and the multi-layered audacity of Mingus that reveals itself. With his deeply rooted and deeply perceived connection to the entire history of jazz, Mingus thought little of the so-called avant-garde – he respected some of its musicians (such as Cecil Taylor) but disrespected his overt rejection of jazz. Classical elements of jazz. at “Mingus speaks, a 1972-1974 interview book by John F Goodman, Mingus mocks the idea of ”free” jazz and says he wanted “to have Clark Terry, Josha Hefetz, Duke Ellington, ah, Pablo Casals, Max Roach, Buddy Collette and Dizzy Gillespie—and we’ll make you A great full-time record that would cut everyone’s voice off.”
However, Mingus’ sextet appeared on Bluiett, founder of St.Louis’s Black Artists Group, a multimedia group that served as a hothouse for the avant-garde of jazz. Played by Bluiett and Adams in a style that, while deeply rooted in blues, has extended through the innovations of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler to embrace torrential cascades of high-speed notes and high-intensity phrases along with the high-pitched cries and cries of the end of their instruments. As for Pauline, he is second only to Taylor as a freely improvised pianist; There’s a lyrical, rounded tone and melody to his tone, and with Mingus, he called Maward of a frank and romantic melodic invention upon which he bases his solos on whirlpools of rhythmic thunder and harmony. Vadis, the trumpeter, is a weird and wonderful guy next to this trio. Despite his impeccable bebop credentials, he added to Mingus an entirely different stylistic element: his mastery of high notes is exceptional, and he uses them with these hexa-mass. Senior trumpeter Kat Anderson has also used his voice in Ellington Orchestra – and as Anderson they have also published in a Short stint with Mingus in 1972, as a kind of super triple bullet to provide beams of light through the jungle of loud mass improvisation.
The four tracks from the first half of the concert feature three of Mingus’ permanent compositions, “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” (first recorded in 1961), “Celia” (first recorded in 1957), and “Fables of Faubus” (first recorded in 1959), as well as Pauline’s blues “Big Alice”. All four of them – and especially the three Mingus compositions – feature the three’s modernity at their boldest. In particular, “Celia,” a multi-part composition in a variety of tempi, originally featured ruminant cadenzas gently by pianist Bill Evans. Here, in Carnegie Hall, those introverted interludes are replaced by accelerated collective improvisation in which Vadis holds the center while Adams and Beloit roar and rage, each seemingly collective on their own. The piece concludes with the roars and cries of such a group improvisation over five bold and brilliant minutes.
In these Six Paths, Mingus separates his compositions with the same bold freedom and self-criticism that they have Bob Dylan He decomposes and rewrites his own songs—or rather, Mingus unfetters allows his band to grab his compositions. It’s as if Dylan has stayed fairly consistent in his own approach but has replaced the group with likes James (Blood) OlmerAnd the Sony Sharrock, And the Glenn Branca. This Mingus band stands as his most cohesive and cohesive group since the late 1950s. Far from simply summarizing or revisiting the classical forms of jazz he revered and embodied, Mingus extended them—even as jazz moved in directions he found inimical. Working with young musicians, whose spirit and imagination invigorated his music along with the new term they helped develop, Mingus tells a musical story of the expansive and all-encompassing power of black art. In demonstrating the infinite fecundity of the jazz tradition, and developing it as a creator, he opens up her future prospects as a teacher. The newly restored version of “Mingus at Carnegie Hall” is in this sense one of his major works, illuminating his vision of the living history of jazz and suggesting directions, dimensions, and grandiose embraces that were tragically prevented by his premature death, in 1979, just five years after the concert.