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Watch two hours of Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy letting loose in Europe, 1964
In 1964 as the Beatles were going viral among the kids and remaking youth culture along the way, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy were ferrying the adults to a whole other dimension.
Teamed with Mingus’ handpicked band – Jaki Byard (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums), Johnny Coles (trumpet), and Clifford Jordan (tenor sax), he and Dolphy (alto sax, flute and bass clarinet) embarked on a European tour that helped define post-bop for listeners in Germany, France, Sweden, and a half-dozen other countries. A few months later Dolphy would die of diabetes-related complications.
The Mingus septet is considered one of the most astounding collection of experts ever to stand on a stage. It was guided by a certified jazz master in Mingus and propelled by a saxophonist, Dolphy, who could steer his horn through veering rhythmic and harmonic pathways like a white-water rafter shooting through rapids.
“They love us in Europe. They listen. They don’t talk,” Mingus said at the time, adding that the crowds “seem to have a different attitude about jazz. They treat it with more respect. They understand the artistry that goes into it. They don’t try to categorize it or put it in a box.”
He compared the overseas gigs to “being reborn, like starting over again. The audiences are so enthusiastic and appreciative. They inspire you to play your best.”
Luckily, a film and audio crew traveled with the septet and filmed three of the stops to create Jazz Icons: Charles Mingus. Documenting sets in Belgium, Norway, and Sweden, the two-hour black-and-white movie revels in the action, tracing each player’s fluid movements as harmony and disharmony collide. Pieces like “Parkeriana” and “Meditations on Integration” seem propelled by some invisible force.
The featured performances were recorded across an eight-day span in April. Set list below.
Liege, Belgium: So Long Eric / Peggy’s Blue Skylight / Meditations on Integration.
Oslo, Norway: So Long Eric / Orange Was the Color of Her Dress Then Blue Silk / Parkeriana / Take The ‘A’ Train
Stockholm, Sweden: So Long Eric (performance and rehearsal) / Meditations on Integration (performance and rehearsal)
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