Charles Mingus Sextet With Eric Dolphy, Cornell 1964

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Cornell 1964

Charles Mingus Sextet With Eric Dolphy
One of the tightest and most transcendent Mingus ever assembled

Mingus and Dolphy represented one of the great tandems in jazz, and the mercurial bandleader wrote specifically for his passionate and wise sideman as surely as Ellington did for his. This concert was a warm-up for the now-legendary 1964 European tour, after which Dolphy planned to stay overseas (he died there 12 weeks later). The band is one of the tightest and most transcendent Mingus ever assembled, particularly on extended tunes like the bitter, raucous "Fables of Faubus," the somber "Meditations" and the kaleidoscopic "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk." Each of the musicians soloed boldly then melded back into the group intuitively. Drummer Dannie Richmond negotiated all of Mingus's emotional twists and turns rhythmically; tenor saxist Clifford Jordan cuts loose on "Take the A Train;" trumpeter Johnny Coles sparks the surprising "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" (it was St. Paddy's Day); and Jaki Byard is, as always, a soulful encyclopedia of jazz piano on "AT FW You." And Dolphy is Dolphy: Whether playing robust bass clarinet on "Meditations," skittering flute on "Jitterbug Waltz" or singing through his alto on "Take the A Train," the man could make you laugh and cry for joy at the same time.