Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Charles Mingus - Ravenna 7/27/74

This Mingus concert finds him in a live setting with
his last working band which included Don Pullen on
piano, George Adams on tenor saxophone and flute,
Hamiet Bluiet on baritone saxophone and Mingus
stalwart Dannie Richmond on drums and percussion. The
concert sticks primarily to some older Mingus pieces
and Ellington standards; it's surprising that he did
not include any of the very successful compositions from the two
Changes albums that were released right around this
time.

The concert begins with the composition "Wee," which originally
appeared on the Mingus Moves LP. The group states the theme and then
moves through a round robin series of solos, George
Adams burly tone cutting through the archival sound
quality with a deep blues rooted sound. The group
blends into the Lester Young tribute "Goodbye Prok-Pie
Hat" very well, playing the well-known melody softly
and reverently. The anti-segregation anthem "Fables of
Faubus" is transformed into an anti Richard Nixon rant
with the chent of "Two, four, six, eight, do you
remember Watergate?" Mingus was always ready to fight
injustice and hypocrisy, and this gave him a golden
opportunity.

The concert ends with a Mingus solo version of
"Sophisticated Lady" segueing into a rousing version
of the Billy Strayhorn flag-waver "Take the A Train"
and then the finale is a brief snippet of Ray Noble's
"Cherokee." It's a fine snapshot of a wonderful band.
It's a shame that Sue Mingus hasn't made good on her
promise of bringing more of the bootlegged Mingus
concerts to the public. There's so much good stuff out
there, that it shouldn't just be the traders having
all the fun.

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