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November 29, 2013 6:51 AM   Subscribe

The Charles Mingus Sextet featuring Eric Dolphy perform
Take the "A" Train
Live in Norway, April 12, 1964

Charles Mingus - Bass
Eric Dolphy - Bass Clarinet
Clifford Jordan - Tenor Sax
Johnny Coles - Trumpet
Jaki Byard - Piano
Dannie Richmond - Drums
posted by timshel (23 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
There was a good article about Mingus in The Nation a couple of months ago - may as well leave that here
posted by thelonius at 6:57 AM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Eric Dolphy, though dead, was a hero of mine when I was a kid playing the saxophone. Now I can say I've seen him performing live after all these years. The guy was so innovative and versatile, and really, probably my favorite jazz flautist as well.
posted by Eekacat at 7:20 AM on November 29, 2013

oh man i want to travel back through time and send each of those guys a letter how drop-dead attractive they are. although i suppose that would be creepy. something about jazz musicians, though, jeez
posted by angrycat at 7:47 AM on November 29, 2013

This was a great moment for the Mingus band. As a piano player, I have to say that Jaki Byard is my favorite pianist and a personal hero of mine; a strong case can be made that he's the most versatile jazz pianist on record - he can play everything from rags and proto-jazz New Orleans strut to 1960s avant-garde wildness.

If you like this and want to hear more, a few years ago they released a fine album of another live concert of the same group: Cornell 1964. They do "Take The A Train" as well as some other great stuff; my personal favorite is Jaki Byard's intro, "AT/FW You." (I'm guessing that's for "Art Tatum/Fats Waller.")
posted by koeselitz at 8:10 AM on November 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

And one of the best album recordings of Mingus with a similar configuration is Mingus At Antibes. Dolphy goes hog-wild on it!
posted by ReeMonster at 8:18 AM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

> This was a great moment for the Mingus band.

No kidding. If I had to pick just one period of Mingus, this would probably be it. Holy hell, what a band! And they played together enough to have amazing, near-telepathic interaction. As the great Penguin Guide to Jazz says, "There is a vast amount of bootleg material from the European tour of 1964"; I've accumulated a few discs beyond the official releases, but I wish somebody would put out a decent boxed set like the ones Columbia has been doing for Miles.

> As a piano player, I have to say that Jaki Byard is my favorite pianist

I know another piano player who worships Byard; I love him madly, but don't know enough about the technical stuff to appreciate him the way you guys do. I just wish I'd seen him live when I had the chance. At least I have this video now—thanks, timshel!
posted by languagehat at 8:51 AM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Did Mingus leave the stage to take a piss during Dolphy's solo?
posted by cropshy at 9:09 AM on November 29, 2013

Nice! I'm sure this has been posted a lot already, but worth another sit through.
posted by shackpalace at 9:57 AM on November 29, 2013

A friend sent me a boot of this show a few years ago -- it's some of my favorite Mingus.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2013

> Did Mingus leave the stage to take a piss during Dolphy's solo?

I wondered that too, but I don't think he was gone long enough; I suspect he was getting something from backstage.
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on November 29, 2013

I stumbled on this record when I was a kid, and burned it into my brain. It's definitely my very favorite record of all time (some days). Later, when I went to replace it on CD, I discovered that "Town Hall Concert" meant something very different in the Mingus ouevre, and it took me a long time to track down the right version. It's still a weirdly obscure, mistitled, semi-bootleg release, and thanks to Sue Mingus not easy to find, but in my opinion it's the Mingus Sextet at their absolute peak, with the best version of "Meditations" (here called "Praying with Eric") they ever did.
posted by rodii at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

And Clifford Jordan is sadly neglected as a hard bop player. Johnny Coles, though--never been sure why Mingus stuck with him.
posted by rodii at 1:35 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for gifts for anyone who likes this kind of thing, I highly recommend this DVD, which has multiple sets with Mingus + Dolphy.
posted by John Cohen at 1:46 PM on November 29, 2013

Ha, Norwegians. Just sit there listening politely. That's dancing music you Lutherans!
posted by chavenet at 1:56 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is as good a time as any to throw out that, around the time I graduated college, my mom took me to New York for a holiday. She asked what I wanted to do and I said "see the Mingus Big Band at Fez." Though she pretty much hated jazz, she obliged and took me one night to see their set at Fez.

Naturally, because my mom's really chatty, she starts talking to this nice woman sitting at the table next to us. My mom's going on and on, talking like a Midwestern tourist (which we both were) about how excited I was to see the band and that she had heard me tell her all about Chuck Mingus. No, really, she said "Chuck Mingus" like three times while she was talking to this woman and I'm turing bright red and thinking, "MOM! SHUT! UP!"

As it turns out, it's Sue Mingus (Charles' wife and a pretty cool composer in her own right), and Sue's just tickled that my mom is kinda buzzed and adorable. Sue asks my mom if I'd like to go and play Charles' lion head bass and my mom is all like "sure! he'd love that!"

I talk my mom and Sue down - I'm not really a great upright player and I'm certainly not going to get up on stage with what was at the time (and probably still is) my favorite big band.

Anyhow, Sue drags me up on stage between sets and introduces me around and everyone's really nice. Boris Koslov is the bass player then, and he's really nice. He lets me hold and noodle around on the lion head bass and talks about what an honor it is to play it and asks me about what I'm listening to and gives me some suggestions about my technique.

Sue runs up with my mom's camera and snaps a bunch of pictures of me holding the lion's head bass and even though none of the pictures turned out (dark bar, crappy camera), it was a pretty cool thing.

Seeing the lion's head bass in that video reminded me of that. I hadn't thought about that memory in a really long time.
posted by elmer benson at 5:16 PM on November 29, 2013 [16 favorites]

I felt like Byard was the standout in this one, but what a great clip.

Though I have to say, the true highlight was at the end when the camera pans across the crowd, and there are several middle-aged and old Norwegians wearing Ray-Bans indoors.

Such cool cats.
posted by Old Man McKay at 5:30 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

elmer benson, That's a MUCH better story than my meeting Dave Liebman story, which I don't think I've shared here since Dave Liebman isn't much of a household name like Chuck Mingus...
posted by Eekacat at 6:47 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jaki Byard. Thanks for reminding me about him. Between my LP's and CD's, he got a little lost, as did South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Dollar Brand). Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra and Bud Powell and the other jazz giants have always been close to this pianist's heart.

Charles Mingus I had the good fortune to see live, around 1975. A giant. YouTube is a treasure to us jazz afficianados. You can even see Django Reindhart work his melodic magic with his deformed hand.

You're not going to see original footage of Jelly Roll Morton, the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, but there are not a lot of videotapes of Beethoven around, either. We are lucky to have what we do.
posted by kozad at 7:49 PM on November 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

YouTube is a treasure to us jazz afficianados

Oh man, you are so right. Pre YouTube, it was damnably difficult to access this stuff — not a lot of it on TV, for sure. This was great — grooved deep, with that hard bop magic ingredient of sanctified music, and a load of good humour. I smiled all the way through, and laughed at a couple of points in Dolphy's solo — as did the trumpet player.
posted by Wolof at 12:07 AM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a few different edits of this clip floating around and I can't see this particular one right now on the device I'm on, so I really hope it has the bit where Dolphy looks pissed off after the band come back in on the wrong bar during his solo.
posted by kersplunk at 2:25 AM on November 30, 2013

Here's a two hour video from the same tour, which includes over an hour more footage from that Norway gig.
posted by walrus at 4:00 AM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Super good, thanks! I listened and loved this immediately last night, so I went and grabbed an Eric Dolphy LP straight away ('Out To Lunch') and listened to it on my way to the pub, and again on the way back. I had no idea about bass clarinets sounding like that. Amazing.
posted by Joeruckus at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2013

On the first Eric Dolphy album I ever bought – which some people say was his last (Last Date, 1964) – he says, at the end, “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.” Fortunately for jazz fans, YouTube has helped to prove that an incorrect statement. Sadly, less than three months after that video was recorded, Dolphy himself was gone, dead at age 36 from diabetes.
* * *
I was never much of a Mingus fan, and didn’t realize Dannie Richmond was in the band so long (over 20 years). My favorite albums they made together are Changes One/Two from 1973, with George Pullen playing spectacularly on piano. Jaki Byard, too, certainly did himself proud in that video.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:54 PM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

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