So Long Eric
November 16, 2006 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Jazz Pour Tous vous a presente Charles Mingus (via google video) Today I viewed the Time Magazine "allTIME 100 Recordings" (Nov13). I rarely spend much time with such lists because they rarely are more than fanlists, and this one is no exception. The Holy Three Albums of jazz were included, but no room for Charles Mingus or Eric Dolphy. So here, via a circuitous route that included this PopMatters review of a new release of Mingus material, I offer this video of the Mingus Sextet in Paris (Johnny Coles is absent). (more inside)
posted by beelzbubba (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Holy Three Jazz albums I refer to are Bitches Brew and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. I love these, don't get me wrong. But I often wonder as I look at lists of 100 or 500 or whatever--sometimes called "essential" sometimes called greatest of all time--why the critics can't get over some of the pull of ephemeral pop and venture a bit more exploration into truly amazing music. Watch Eric Dolphy on this video of "Farewell, Eric Dolphy" (aka Meditations on Integration, Meditations on a Pair of Wire Cutters, Praying with Eric, etc.). His exploration of the range of sound is breathtaking.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2006

Your favourite list of jazz recordings sucks!

That said...I don't know a whole lot about jazz, but any list of this sort that can't find room for Mingus' The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady - let alone anything by Mingus - is...erroneous.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2006

I gotta's not just jazz. My bad. Mingus still rules!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:04 AM on November 16, 2006

If you knew me, you would know that by most objective standards, my list of favorite jazz albums does suck.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:06 AM on November 16, 2006

Clarification: The allTIME 100 includes ONLY three jazz albums. It is largely a pop/rock fest. Go figure.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:09 AM on November 16, 2006

These lists are targeted towards gen-x-ers and older who seek some sort of validation in having the music of their youth identified as still being meaningful or important.

They note they excluded Pink Floyd, but gave no reason, but Van Morrison is on it?

Also, these lists exclude music the critics and fans of today personally dislike. For example, I notice Van Halen appears nowhere on this list, despite the fact that like them or not, they defined the rock and roll sound in the 80's. But "hair metal" is out today, so it's not on the list.

A better list would simply list the albums with the most sales per year ten years after their release, or some other indicia of longevity. Or like bellxbubba said, make a subjective list with some interesting music not everyone has heard of.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2006

Pastabagel writes "A better list would simply list the albums with the most sales per year ten years after their release, or some other indicia of longevity."

Yeah, lists like this are impossible to make, and really live or die based on an editorial stance and justification. That doesn't obviate the criticisms, but does serve to frame the discussion.

That said, most sales is a horrible measure of importance. How many bestsellers from 1950 are read with any regularity today? Or, to put it back into musical terms, I've always been partial to Brian Eno's description of the importance of The Velvet Underground: "Their first album only sold 1000 copies, but everyone who bought it started a band."
posted by OmieWise at 8:29 AM on November 16, 2006

Ob derail: Stop Making Sense intead of Remain in Light? Are they insane?

Sorry, carry on.

I love those three albums too.
posted by jokeefe at 8:33 AM on November 16, 2006

illmatic >>> ready to die

that is all
posted by milarepa at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2006

That said, most sales is a horrible measure of importance. How many bestsellers from 1950 are read with any regularity today?

That would be the point of measuring annual album sales beginning ten years after release. Whatever albums are still selling ten years after they are put out are probably important for some reason or another.

But your point is a fair one, that you invariably miss albums that are influential but did not sell well.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:43 AM on November 16, 2006

This post is, to me, a clear illustration of why the fear of One-Link Posts is bad for MetaFilter. The video is fantastic and would have been a perfect post by itself, but because the stupid list got tossed in everybody's talking about the stupid list, and all those conversations are exactly the same ("how could they leave X out? and what about Y?"). Oh well. Thanks for the video; the '64 band Mingus took to Europe is one of the all-time greats (and, fortunately, extremely well documented), and this is one of their best performances, captured perfectly: no bullshit "audience reaction" shots, no artsy tricks, just a clear view of the band, with closeups as called for. And Mingus's music calls to mind, more than most jazz composers, the adjective "profound"; I can still remember how riveted I was the first time I heard "Meditation (on a Pair of Wire-Cutters)" over thirty years ago, and it's never lost its grip on me. Sad to think that "So Long Eric" (written because he was leaving the band to stay in Europe for a while) so quickly became an elegy.

Watching these guys play their hearts out has made my day. Thanks again.

I don't think I've ever seen Jaki Byard called "John Arthur Byard" before. The French are weird, but they do appreciate good jazz.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on November 16, 2006

According to TIME, four of the nine the best albums of this decade are Elvis, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams and Muddy Waters. OK then.
posted by edverb at 8:46 AM on November 16, 2006

languagehat - to be fair, a lot of us don't have the ability to watch the video with sound, but I for one look forward to watching and listening later.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:02 AM on November 16, 2006

I don't know Mingus from Adam, being a genX-er myself, but I just came to say the same thing what languagehat said. This could've been a single-link FPP in itself. The video was great. Thanks beelzbubba.
No, I won't comment on Kanye West's inclusion in the list.
posted by forwebsites at 9:18 AM on November 16, 2006

SWEET video!
posted by algreer at 9:30 AM on November 16, 2006

Who cares about the list? The video is amazing. In college I lived the 3-LP set of this concert (a different performance - a number of recordings exist), playing Jaki's stride excursion in Parkeriana over and over again for friends to watch their jaw drop. But to see a video of my favorite group doing my favorite tune at my favorite concert - utterly amazing. Many, many thanks.

I had the good fortune to see Mingus many times in New York in the '70's, and he was always absorbing, almost too much joy to bear sometimes. I had a conversation with Jaki Byard one night in the early 90's. He was kind, decent gentleman as well as a unique musician. It's a cliché, but we'll not see their like again.

P.S. No one could make 6/8 swing like Dannie Richmond.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2006

Sweet, thanks.

If you want to know Mingus, check out his autobiography Beneath the Underdog. As far as sex-obsessed artist biographies go, it's almost as outrageous as Kinski's.
posted by muckster at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2006

I had the good fortune to see Mingus many times in New York in the '70's, and he was always absorbing, almost too much joy to bear sometimes

I envy you this. I've been a Mingus fan for years now. Its such a great pleasure to see this stuff on video at least.

Here's Mingus doing Goodbye Porkpie Hat. Some other good videos on that blog too.
posted by vacapinta at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2006

languagehat, you were reading my thoughts: I was apprehensive of making the single-link FPP. On review, I could have gone with two--the Mingus video and the PopMatters review of the "unheard" Monterey Concert, released this September. Thanks for the sage advice.

Two quick Mingus experiences from times I saw the man and the band in the early 70s. At the Quiet Knight in Chicago, Mingus and Hamiett Bluiett got into a rather loud backstage discussion during a break in sets, with Bluiett fired and rehired within minutes. The language used by both was colorful.

At Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, several of us showed up hours early for the Mingus Quintet (this would be early '76, just over 30 years ago). As we sat up front, Mingus came out to play/work through some changes on the piano not three feet from us. The great man was gracious, amusing, and took time to just talk with us.

These videos remind me how special Charles Mingus was and is.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:52 PM on November 16, 2006

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