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Charles Mingus: The Great Concert of Charles Mingus

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In April of 1964 multi-instrumentalist supreme Eric Dolphy rejoined Charles Mingus for a European tour, his plan being to stay on and look for a new base of operations. Since it proved impossible for Dolphy to find supporting musicians of the caliber he had known in New York, one could argue that the recordings from this tour represent his last great legacy. You might also maintain that Mingus never rose to these kinds of heights again, either, though he certainly had many good years left ahead of him.

Over time an impressive amount of documentation of the tour has surfaced, including recordings from nine dates made in eight cities in six countries. The first of these to appear commercially is the title under consideration, which was drawn from the appearance at the Theatre des Champs-Elysee in Paris. Joining Mingus and Dolphy were Clifford Jordan on tenor, pianist Jaki Byard and drummer Dannie Richmond. The trumpeter, Johnny Coles, had collapsed on the previous evening suffering from a stomach ulcer, among other things. His absence was obviously felt by his comrades, one possible reason that the music heard here was especially amazing, even by this group’s standards.

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