CHARLES MINGUS, THE JAZZ WORKSHOP CONCERTS 1964-65




By the time that bassist Charles Mingus and his wife Sue got the idea to form a company to document and release his live recordings, the 42 year-old musician and composer had already released a string of classic recordings, “Mingus Ah Um” (1959) and “The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady” (1963) among them. Much effort was invested in The Jazz Workshop project, but not all of it has been either heard or released until now -- thanks to the champion music producers at Mosaic Records, the company co-founded by Michael Cuscuna and the late Charles Lourie dedicated to reissuing historically important jazz recordings in limited edition boxed sets.
Postponed from a July 2012 launch due to newly discovered music from performances staged at NYC’s Town Hall and Monterey, CA, the box set was retooled and expanded to seven discs to include dates in Minneapolis and Amsterdam. Sue Mingus supplied Mosaic with the original archived tapes, which were painstakingly restored and assembled, chronicling five essential live performances with a stellar line-up of players – Eric Dolphy, Charles McPherson, Jaki Byard, Johnny Coles, Clifford Jordan and Dannie Richmond.  Sonically and musically, this Mingus set stands among Mosaic’s best efforts and is well-timed to coincide with Mingus’s 90th birthday anniversary.

The sheer volume of music and entertainment leaves one breathless at the veracity of Mingus’s creativity, especially when its contrasted against the turbulent times of the era, and it compounds the bassist’s legendary stature as a master of swing and compositional heft. In addition to standards and music by Duke Ellington, a bounty of originals is presented with tracks stretching as long as 30 minutes. The performances are often played as spiritual awakenings or protesting injustices (“Don’t Let It Happen Here”) with spoken word passages. Mingus is often transfixed, gleefully shouting musician’s names at their solo (“They Trespass The Land Of The Sacred Sioux”) or calling them up on their instruments (“alto!”)  He’s both cheerleader and an exuberant master of ceremonies.

This Mosaic set brings all of Mingus’s passion to life again, supported by a 20-page booklet with vital background info, a track-by-track analysis by Mingus biographer Brian Priestley, an essay from Sue Mingus and rare concert photographs. Like all of their sets, this is strictly a limited edition of 7500. You can’t download it and will definitely sell out sooner rather than later. “Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65” is the best historical album released in 2012. (7 discs; about 7.5 hours of music) www.mosaicrecords.com


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JAZZ IN SPACE: CHARLES MINGUS, THE JAZZ WORKSHOP CONCERTS 1964-65

Friday, November 30, 2012

CHARLES MINGUS, THE JAZZ WORKSHOP CONCERTS 1964-65




By the time that bassist Charles Mingus and his wife Sue got the idea to form a company to document and release his live recordings, the 42 year-old musician and composer had already released a string of classic recordings, “Mingus Ah Um” (1959) and “The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady” (1963) among them. Much effort was invested in The Jazz Workshop project, but not all of it has been either heard or released until now -- thanks to the champion music producers at Mosaic Records, the company co-founded by Michael Cuscuna and the late Charles Lourie dedicated to reissuing historically important jazz recordings in limited edition boxed sets.
Postponed from a July 2012 launch due to newly discovered music from performances staged at NYC’s Town Hall and Monterey, CA, the box set was retooled and expanded to seven discs to include dates in Minneapolis and Amsterdam. Sue Mingus supplied Mosaic with the original archived tapes, which were painstakingly restored and assembled, chronicling five essential live performances with a stellar line-up of players – Eric Dolphy, Charles McPherson, Jaki Byard, Johnny Coles, Clifford Jordan and Dannie Richmond.  Sonically and musically, this Mingus set stands among Mosaic’s best efforts and is well-timed to coincide with Mingus’s 90th birthday anniversary.

The sheer volume of music and entertainment leaves one breathless at the veracity of Mingus’s creativity, especially when its contrasted against the turbulent times of the era, and it compounds the bassist’s legendary stature as a master of swing and compositional heft. In addition to standards and music by Duke Ellington, a bounty of originals is presented with tracks stretching as long as 30 minutes. The performances are often played as spiritual awakenings or protesting injustices (“Don’t Let It Happen Here”) with spoken word passages. Mingus is often transfixed, gleefully shouting musician’s names at their solo (“They Trespass The Land Of The Sacred Sioux”) or calling them up on their instruments (“alto!”)  He’s both cheerleader and an exuberant master of ceremonies.

This Mosaic set brings all of Mingus’s passion to life again, supported by a 20-page booklet with vital background info, a track-by-track analysis by Mingus biographer Brian Priestley, an essay from Sue Mingus and rare concert photographs. Like all of their sets, this is strictly a limited edition of 7500. You can’t download it and will definitely sell out sooner rather than later. “Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65” is the best historical album released in 2012. (7 discs; about 7.5 hours of music) www.mosaicrecords.com


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