Friday, April 22, 2022

Alpha Centaurus: Charles Mingus 100

I know I vowed not to duplicate stuff and cover people I have done before, but centenaries are an exception, especially when it's someone of this gravity.

It was a very different world 100 years ago, I think we can all agree on that.

I know I worry we're going backwards to 1922 and beyond. I think today's birthday guy worried about that too, although it sure does seem to be speeding up -- in ways no one back then could have anticipated -- here at the end.

When I hear the Shut Up And Entertain Me contingent of today admonish artists to keep the politics out of their music, I laugh to myself thinking how our hero here would have retorted.

A vivid living color in a black-and-white time, is one way I'd describe him.

Although a rare disease ensured he wouldn't see 60, he dominated his lifetime and his times in ways that have people still talking about him, decades after his death in 1979.

One of the primary architects of the Be-Bop revolution of the 1940s, he progressed into areas no other 20th Century composer dared broach and left a catalog almost unparalleled in the vast history of American music.

A notorious taskmaster, he was famous for firing his sidemen... sometimes in the middle of a set.

On occasion, he'd fight them on the bandstand.

Needless to say, if he were around today there's no telling the Technicolor derision he would pour upon the puerile, stagnant-bland piffle that passes for popular song these days.

Born 100 years back from this very day, Charles Mingus still sends a mighty ripple from the beyond, and is a figure about whom we can honestly say -- even though Jazz is as rejected in the land of its inception as it's ever been -- that no one will ever forget what he left us.

He left such a ridiculous wealth of it, in fact, that there's still a whole lot of really valuable treasure to be mined which remains unissued.

In honor of the Mingus Centennial, I know the massive set of The Maestro 50 years ago this summer, upstairs at Ronnie Scott's in London, is getting a nifty Record Store Day issue tomorrow on vinyl, with digi-platforms to follow next weekend.
I posted that years ago but eventually some of them get the legitimate treatment, for which I feel oddly grateful... like I demonstrate a hint of demand, upon which the record industry can focus their greed with a supply lolol.

What the hey, it's all an excuse to put together a neato companion to that upcoming four-LP/triple-CD Ronnie Scott's thing, isn't it? Let's beat the boots with a still-unreleased, three-hour adventure into a small 1972 slice of what made Mr. Mingus a man among men.

Charles Mingus
Europe '72
Sextet, Quintet & Quartet

01 announcement by Charles Mingus
02 Pops (When the Saints Go Marching In)
03 Fables of Faubus
04 Mindreaders' Convention In Milano (My Music Emission)
05 Cherokee (theme)/announcement by Charles Mingus
06 The Man Who Never Sleeps

Total time: 1:19:40

Charles Mingus - bass
Charles McPherson - alto saxophone & vocals
Bobby Jones - tenor saxophone & clarinet
Jon Faddis - trumpet & vocals
John Foster - piano & vocals
Roy Brooks - drums & saw

01 announcement by Dexter Gordon
02 Jelly Roll, Muddy Blues
03 Duke Ellington medley: Blues In G (bass solo)/In a Sentimental Mood/Sophisticated Lady/Mood Indigo/Take the "A" Train

02 Fables of Faubus
03 Body and Soul
04 Blues medley: John's Blues (Blues for Some Bones)/Blues for Roy's Saw/Noddin' Ya Head Blues 

Total time: 1:39:27

Charles Mingus - bass
Charles McPherson - alto saxophone
John Foster - piano & vocals
Roy Brooks - drums, percussion & saw
Dexter Gordon - tenor saxophone (CD2, Track 02) 

CD1: 15th International Jazz Festival  Jachthaven van Dijk, Loosdrecht NL 8.12.1972 likely off-air FM master reel
CD2, Tracks 01 & 02: Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen DK 8.28.1972 likely off-air FM master reel 
sourced from the 2013 remastered bootleg silver CD "Live In Holland & Denmark 1972" on the Naima label
declipped, with Loosdrecht tracks restored to correct running order, 
and dead air very slightly edited to accomodate a single CD by EN, April 2022
CD2, Track 03 & CD3: Châteauvallon Scène Nationale, Ollioules FR 8.22.1972 likely master pre-FM reels 
sourced from the 1989 grey area silver CD "Live In Chateauvallon" on the France's Concert label
slightly remastered by EN, April 2022

These, like tomorrow's RSD thing, are all from August of 1972 and feature Mingus wreaking havoc across Europe and Scandinavia, shedding band members like the rest of us shed our clothes before bathing. In the Loosdrecht set, the tenor is on crutches from dude tossing him off the stage the night before!

These Passions are inseparable from the man, and if there were ten like him today we would live in a very different -- and probably much less evasive and dishonest -- world. So happy One Hundred to Charlie Mingus. If they're still playing his tunes in another hundred, there may yet prove to be hope for us humans that might remain here.--J.

4.22.1922 - 1.5.1979