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Ted Curson: The New Thing and the Blue Thing

Few musicians have gotten as much continued recognition from one sideman appearance as Curson has from his participation on the stupendous Mingus Presents Mingus record. Even as the weak link in that superhuman quartet, he played some great jazz. His post-Mingus career was on a more mortal level, but the recordings he made in groups featuring tenorman Bill Barron are well worth checking out. The New Thing and the Blue Thing is the best-known of these. Curson’s soaring lines and brilliant trumpet sound are well-matched by Barron, who was at the top of his form on this date. Neither was really an avantgardist by 1965 standards, but both were interesting modern voices whose best work came when they were pushing the limits. The sidemen don’t stand out particularly, but there is some good writing, like the slightly Ornettish “Reava’s Waltz” or the interesting “Nublu,” and the principal soloists are consistently engaging throughout.

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