NPR's First Listen: Charles Mingus

Ray Avery/Courtesy of the artist

Head on over to NPR's First Listen pages and among many others you can stream nearly 2 hours of music from Charles Mingus:

The music heard in this First Listen comes from May 1965, almost a year after Dolphy's death. It's a full concert given by a Charles Mingus quintet in Minneapolis; the first half was once issued as the LP My Favorite Quintet, while the latter half remained unreleased until now. Solo fireworks come from Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), Charles McPherson (alto sax) and Jaki Byard (piano); Mingus' long-time drummer, Dannie Richmond, holds down the fort.

Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts, 1964-65 is a new 7-CD limited edition (7,500 copies) set from Mosaic Records that covers what its title suggests and comes from Mingus' short-lived record label Jazz Workshop/Charles Mingus Enterprises.

Much of this music has never been released on CD and includes some truly amazing line-ups. From Mosaic:

Five of the tunes from the April 4, 1964 performance at Town Hall in New York have never been available before. The lineup of Dolphy, Jordan, Coles, Byard, and Richmond also performed in Amsterdam on April 10. The 1964 Monterey show in September features Hillyer, McPherson, Byard, and Richmond, expanded by six pieces for "Meditations" including John Handy Red Callendar, Buddy Collete and Jack Nimitz. In May of 1965, in Minneapolis, he was back to the five-piece Monterey lineup. That last date includes a great rarity, never before on record - "Copa City Titty (aka O.P.)," recorded only once before on an obscure Japanese big band record. Mingus's abbreviated 1965 Monterey set features an octet with Hobart Dotson, Jimmy Owens, Hillyer, McPherson, Julius Watkins, Howard Johnson and Richmond. Only two of the four pieces were issued on obscure compilations.

The music ranges from his interpretations of Ellington, tributes to his musicians ("Praying With Eric"), an exuberant celebration of Art Tatum and Fats Waller by Jaki Byard, an enormously ambitious portrait of bop called "Parkeriana," and Mingus's own spectaculars: "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk;" "Meditations," "Fables of Faubus," and "So Long Eric."

Mosaic's box set includes an essay and track by track analysis by Mingus biographer Brian Priestley, an essay on the listory of Charles Mingus Enterprises and rememberances by Sue Mingus and many rare photographs from the concerts. Like all of Mosaic's sets, our release is strictly limited to an edition of 7500. This is truly a find worth hearing, worth savoring, and worth collecting.

You can listen here and order the Mosaic CD-set here (release date November 15). And hurry—once we reach the release date, originally scheduled for Oct. 30th, NPR will pull the plug on the free stream.

firedog55's picture

From the first second my foot was tapping. And the sound quality is good, too.