mercoledì 19 ottobre 2011

Charles Mingus: Live in Europe 1964 with Eric Dolphy

Questo eccezionale documentario presenta il leggendario Charles Mingus Sextet con Jaki Byard (pianoforte), Dannie Richmond (batteria), Johnny Coles (tromba), Clifford Jordan (sax tenore) ed il grande Eric Dolphy (sax alto, flauto e clarinetto basso) in tre superlativi concerti eseguiti in otto giorni nell'aprile del 1964 (in Belgio, Norvegia e Svezia), meno di tre mesi prima della morte di Dolphy.
Questi concerti mettono in mostra la leadership visionaria di Mingus e l'incredibile profondità ed originalità della band attraverso performances uniche e ri-arrangiamenti di pezzi classici tra i quali So Long Eric e l'innovativo Meditations On Integration.
Questo documentario è diventato un splendido Dvd della serie Jazz Icons, dalla qualità audio/video superlativa.

Questo è un estratto delle liner notes di Rob Bowman presenti sul Dvd:
The 1964 tour of Europe by Charles Mingus has long been heralded as a watershed moment in jazz. Fronting arguably the best band that he ever worked with—Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax), Johnny Coles (trumpet), Jaki Byard (piano) and the ubiquitous Dannie Richmond (drums)—Mingus barnstormed his way through two-and-a-half weeks’ of dates, beginning in Amsterdam on April 10 and concluding in Stuttgart, Germany, on the April 28. The tour effectively introduced two new compositions, “Meditations On Integration” and “So Long Eric”, while the band walked a fine line between Mingus’s usual amalgam of bop, swing and New Orleans jazz and the free-jazz leanings of the cataclysmic Dolphy. The result, of course, was something that could only be called Mingus Music—a galvanizing, high-energy sonic stew that, while the product of the kinetic interplay of six musicians, could only have been conjured up with Mingus as the master of ceremonies.
It is difficult to separate Mingus’s formidable bass playing from his genius as a composer. While he was indisputably the leader of the band, like Ellington, Mingus made his musicians an integral part of the composition process. He typically tailored his writing to the proclivities of his band members and he often conveyed his compositional ideas orally, refusing to write them down. In that way, Mingus set the musical and emotional framework for each piece while leaving the realization up to the abilities of those at hand.
The night after Oslo, Mingus’s sextet was in Stockholm playing a concert at the Koncerthuset. During the afternoon rehearsal, they played the two versions of “So Long Eric” discussed above and a 23-minute version of “Meditations On Integration”.
The latter is among the most complex and perhaps most important pieces that Mingus ever wrote. Mingus had premiered the piece weeks earlier in a rather raggedy version at Cornell University in upstate New York. The next performance occurred at the NAACP benefit the band played on April 4. When Mingus released that version on Town Hall Concert on his Jazz Workshop label shortly after Dolphy’s death, he chose to title it “Praying With Eric”.
The modular, multi-section work was used as the concluding number at most of the European shows and was later recorded in a big-band version featuring three trumpets, three saxophones, trombone and tuba at the Monterey Jazz Festival that September. On October 31, 1964, the work was performed in Toronto for a CBC television special in an arrangement for five saxophones and oboe. “Meditations On Integration” was played one last time at the University of California in September 1965, scored for a six-piece front line.
According to Mingus in his introduction to the Town Hall performance, the piece grew out of a conversation with Dolphy. “Eric Dolphy explained to me that there was something similar to the concentration camps once in Germany now down South… and the only difference between the electric barbed wire is that they don’t have gas chambers and hot stoves to cook us in yet. So I wrote a piece called ‘Meditations,’ as to how to get some wire cutters before someone else gets some guns to us.”
On April 17, four days after the Stockholm rehearsal, Johnny Coles collapsed on the bandstand between “So Long Eric” and “Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk” due to a perforated gastric ulcer. The band performed on the rest of the tour including the Belgium television series, Jazz Pour Tous, taped in Liege on Sunday evening April 19, as a quintet.
After an abbreviated “So Long Eric” the band plays a just under six-minute version of “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” before delivering a superb version of “Meditations On Integration”.
The version of “Meditations On Integration” played at the rehearsal in Stockholm, while the same basic arrangement, is also significantly different in that Coles was still playing with the band. Following Dolphy’s frenetic bass clarinet solo, Coles takes the sextet in a completely different direction, playing a lyrical solo while Richmond and Mingus provide straight ahead swing-inflected accompaniment. Cole’s presence also means that the improvised riffs behind the different soloists have a fuller texture and wider range. Worth pointing out in this version is a moment around the nine-minute mark where the three horns honk insistently in a wonderfully dissonant riff. It is a glorious section marked by a massive grin on Mingus’s face as he revels in the sheer audacity and musical acumen of this ensemble. Overall, the version of “Meditations On Integration” filmed in Stockholm is somewhat lighter than the monster version played in Belgium. Both are treasures.

Ecco il video integrale di questo straordinario documentario:

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