Sunday, June 15, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Charles Mingus

Artist:Charles Mingus
Song:So Long, Eric
Album:Town Hall Concert

This 1964 band was the end of a very productive period for legendary bassist Charles Mingus. The band came to a screeching halt when Eric Dolphy died while they were on tour in Europe. After that, Mingus started a family and even quit music until he returned in the 70s. This period began with the 1959 classic album Mingus Ah Um and continued with albums like Money Jungle with Duke Ellington and Max Roach in 1961 and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady in 1963. In 1964, Mingus formed one of his best known bands to tour Europe. The band included Eric Dolphy and Clifford Jordan on sax, Johnny Coles on trumpet, Jaki Byard on piano and Dannie Richmond on drums. Mingus grew up with Dolphy in Los Angeles. Richmond had been Mingus' drummer since 1957 and Byard played on The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. As the band was rehearsing, Dolphy told Mingus he planned to remain in Europe after the tour. He believed jazz musicians were more appreciated in Europe. So Mingus wrote So Long, Eric as a tribute to Dolphy. The band played a couple of warm up concerts before the tour including the Apr. 9, 1964 show at the Town Hall in New York City. You can get it as a budget CD. There are several CDs available from the European part of the tour. You'll notice that Johnny Coles is not on some of those recordings. Coles got sick halfway through the tour and he was not replaced. The band ended when Eric Dolphy died in Berlin on June 29, 1964. He collapsed while on stage and went into a diabetic coma. So this band was Dolphy's last hurrah and he is outstanding. Jaki Byard was also a standout and he was a guy who normally didn't get much critical acclaim. Mingus didn't really do much for the rest of the 60s. He married Sue Mingus in 1966 and they had a daughter. He was evicted from his New York apartment for non payment of rent in 1966. He even quit music for a while. This period is chronicled in Thomas Reichman's documentary Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968. Mingus returned to music in the 70s with albums like Changes. But then he got sick with ALS and cancer and died on Jan. 5, 1979 at age 56. This band is just one of many Charles Mingus recordings that should be essential for jazz fans. Here's Charles Mingus performing So Long, Eric in Belgium Apr. 19, 1964.

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