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Charles Mingus In Paris - The Complete America Session

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Album Review

The music on Charles Mingus' In Paris: The Complete America Session originally appeared on two separate LPs issued by America which were duly reissued by several labels as Reincarnation of a Lovebird (though not to be confused with the earlier album of the same title made for Candid). After a five-year layoff from doing any studio recording, Mingus was fully prepared for this 1970 session, with old hands Jaki Byard on piano, drummer Dannie Richmond, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, and newer additions Bobby Jones (tenor sax), and Eddie Preston (trumpet) making up his sextet. Most of the focus is on extended treatments of earlier works, including "Reincarnation of a Lovebird," "Pithecanthropus Erectus," and "Peggy's Blue Skylight," plus a loping, bluesy rendition of Charlie Parker's "Blue Bird" that lasts 18 minutes and never loses steam. The two shorter works come out differently; everything comes together on "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" but Mingus is clearly dissatisfied with the performance of his new work "Love Is a Dangerous Necessity" and is audibly heard stating "Cut it, cut it!" in the midst of McPherson's solo and the song abruptly ends. The soloists shine throughout the date, with no one musician trying to outdo the others. This two-CD set adds all of the other material recorded during this single-day session on a separate disc, including all false starts, breakdowns, incomplete takes, and rehearsals, so serious fans can figure out how the performances evolved in the studio. After battling depression and suffering financial problems for several years prior to this session, this outstanding recording signaled that Charles Mingus was on the rebound and still had much to contribute, until Lou Gerhig's disease ended his career and took his life prematurely later in the decade.


Born: 22 April 1922 in Nogales, AZ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Irascible, demanding, bullying, and probably a genius, Charles Mingus cut himself a uniquely iconoclastic path through jazz in the middle of the 20th century, creating a legacy that became universally lauded only after he was no longer around to bug people. As a bassist, he knew few peers, blessed with a powerful tone and pulsating sense of rhythm, capable of elevating the instrument into the front line of a band. But had he been just a string player, few would know his name today. Rather, he was...
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