Even if he was a world-class weirdo (or, if you take his words literally, three world-class weirdoes
) who spent time in Bellevue
, enlisted his psychotherapist to write his liner notes,
and allegedly taught his cat to use the toilet
(h/t to MeFi's urbanwhaleshark
), I'll best remember Charles Mingus
for giving me his 1960 take on "I'll Remember April"
, featuring the most exciting four minutes of music in my entire collection (starting at the 9:25 mark of the video).Recorded at 1960's Antibes Jazz Festival
for Atlantic Records, this performance of "I'll Remember April" is notable both for the appearance of troubled expatriate jazz pianist Bud Powell
(whose late-career stay in France inspired tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon's
star turn in 1986's Round Midnight
), as well as the frenetic trading of fours and twos by saxophonists Booker Ervin
(tenor, the guy on the right in the video) and Eric Dolphy
(alto, on the left).
Ervin may have been lost in the shuffle of the great 50s and 60s tenor saxophonists such as Sonny Rollins
and John Coltrane
, but Eric Dolphy stands out among the reedmen of his day. Despite recording Free Jazz with Ornette Coleman
, Dolphy's recordings illustrate how he was more intent on pushing the limits of form rather than disregarding it altogether. A tune like "245", clipped from a European variety show
takes be-bop's energy and song structure, adding atonality and the illusion of chaotic freedom to the mix. This made Dolphy an ideal foil for Mingus, who took traditional gospel and blues forms and constructed a canon of memorable and influential jazz classics as unique as their composer. Here's The Mingus Dynasty Big Band burning through the classic gospel call-and-response testimony of "Better Git Hit In Yo Soul" from 1980.
Besides the fire stoked between Ervin and Dolphy on this cut, the at Antibes
album is widely regarded as one of the greatest live records in jazz history
, and features the definitive version of Mingus' composition "What Love?," which the All Music Guide says is, "clearly advanced music, the kind of music only skilled musicians like Mingus, Dolphy, and Bud Powell could pull off, but this performance is so grateful, even casual jazz fans will be seduced by (it)."
Bonus "I'll Remember Aprils": Max, Clifford and Sonny!
Carmine Ragusa Tony Bennett and Buddy Rich! Sarah Vaughan! Errol Garner! Stan Getz!