by Don Berryman
I can think of few others who embody the phrase “larger than life’ as Charles Mingus does. Imposing in both physical and artistic stature, his influence on twentieth century music was immense. To have this lost recording of this giant of jazz released is a rare treat given the quality of the recording and the performances.
Charles MIngus’ European tours are well documented. Two years ago Charles Mingus @ Bremen 1964 & 1975 was released as a two disc set and I reviewed it in “20_from 2020 – New Music that Helped”. The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott’s captures a performance from 1972, falling between the Bremen dates and featuring a different line-up and a pristine recording. Mingus’ 1972 group still featured the saxophonists Bobby Jones (tenor) and Charles McPherson (alto), but other new members were added. Pianist Jaki Byard was succeeded by the then relatively unknown John Foster. Longtime drummer Dannie Richmond was replaced by the Detroit drummer Roy Brooks, who demonstrated his technique that allowed him to control the pitch of his drums while playing. The 19-year old Jon Faddis, a protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, filled the vacant trumpet chair in the sextet. New blood mixed with veterans added more vitality to produce dazzling performances.
In what was to be a Columbia Records live album, two live sets were professionally recorded on eight-track tapes via a mobile recording truck on August 14th & 15th, 1972. However, the performance was not released because Mingus – along with every other jazz musician on the Columbia roster except for Miles Davis – was dropped by the label in the spring of 1973. It sat in the vault for about 50 years until rediscovered. Resonance co-president Zev Feldman, who co-produced the Scott’s material for release with David Weiss, says, “This is a lost chapter in Mingus’ history. … We have now brought this recording to light for the whole world to hear in all its musical and sonic glory. It’s especially exciting to be celebrating Mingus with this release in his centennial year.”
A booklet is packaged with the release that contains numerous interviews including an interview with Charles Mingus and Charles Mcpherson conducted at the club in London by Brian Priestley at the time of the concert. New interviews with bassists Christian McBride and Eddie Gomez. An interview with Fran Lebowitz, also included in the booklet contains many interesting anecdotes from time she spent with Charles and Sue Mingus in which she said “I know a million artists, I know a million people who say they’re artists, a million people that other people say are artists, but Charles was profoundly an artist. There was nothing about him that wasn’t that of an artist.” An excerpt from Sue Mingus’ book Tonight at Noon: A Love Story is also included.
The recording containing almost two and a half hours of music is released on three LP’s, two CD’s, and digital download. Purchase at https://charlesmingusmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-album-from-ronnie-scotts or at your favorite record store.
A1 Introduction 1:01
A2 Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues (Part 1) 25:18
B1 Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues (Part 2) 5:26
B2 Noddin’ Ya Head Blues 19:52
C1 Mind-Readers’ Convention In Milano (AKA Number 29) 29:57
C2 Ko Ko (Theme) 0:45
D Fables Of Faubus (Part 1) 21:52
E1 Fables Of Faubus (Part 2) 13:10
E2 Pops (AKA When The Saints Go Marching In) 7:17
F1 The Man Who Never Sleeps 18:51
F2 Air Mail Special
This year we have a treasure trove of previously unreleased live recordings by some of the giants of jazz from the 60’s and 70’s including Ahmad Jamal (see JazzPolice review here ), Charles Mingus, Elvin Jones, and Mal Waldron. This is the second of four reviews of those releases.