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Must-Hear Recordings Made at Slugs’ Saloon

Live in a dive

A handbill from Slugs', courtesy of Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd Quartet
Manhattan Stories (Resonance)

Sax and flute player Lloyd was 27 and on the rise in 1965, when he produced the bristling, experimental postbop on this double-CD/LP due out Sept. 9. One disc was recorded at Slugs’, the other at Judson Hall in the West Village. Lloyd and his band-guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete La Roca-venture freely into avant-garde and Eastern modal territory. (In April, as part of Record Store Day, Resonance released a limited-edition vinyl record containing two cuts from the set.)

Sun Ra
Live at Slugs’ Saloon (Transparency)

Recorded in 1972 during the last months of Slugs’, this six-CD set features the full Arkestra, complete with drummer Clifford Jarvis, an all-girl quartet of “Space Ethnic Voices,” and reed player Marshall Allen, who took over the Arkestra after Ra’s final ascent into outer space.

Charles Mingus Quintet
Dizzy Atmosphere: Live at Historic Slugs’, Vol. 1
Fables of Faubus: Live at Historic Slugs’, Vol. 2 (both vols. Jazz View)

In 1970, after five years of curtailed activity and personal chaos, Mingus entered his last turbulent decade with some appearances at the club, where he led an ace band: trumpeter Bill Hardman, saxophonists Charles McPherson and Jimmy Vass, and drummer Dannie Richmond.

Charles Tolliver Quartet
Mosaic Select 20 (Mosaic)

Trumpeter Tolliver’s frenzied, staccato lines and distinctively wide vibrato made him a standout in Jackie McLean’s mid-’60s band. Tolliver was an emerging bandleader in 1970, when his Music Inc. quartet (with pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jimmy Hopps) played Slugs’. An onsite recording comprises much of this three-CD set.

Albert Ayler Quintet
Slugs’ Saloon (ESP-Disk’)

The avant-garde saxophonist’s squally, honking delirium made strange bedfellows with the marching-band jubilance of his compositions and group. This double-CD was recorded in 1966. He appeared at Slugs’ again just a few months before his death in 1970.

Originally Published