Cornell 1964

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Charles Mingus
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: Charles Mingus Sextet: Johnny Coles (trumpet), Jaki Byard (piano), Charles Mingus (bass), Clifford Jordan (saxophone), Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone), Dannie Richmond (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 392 2102

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Restored from a recently discovered, dusty mono tape, here’s the 1964 Mingus Sextet in a hitherto unknown New York performance, shortly before the same line-up went to Europe for an extended tour.

That tour has been extensively documented, mainly through unofficial recordings, and that does take some of the impact out of a set that is perhaps more Genesis than Revelation.

Tunes that would become staples on the European sojourn, including ‘Fables Of Faubus’ and ‘So Long Eric’, are present and correct, but it’s hard to hear these as superior to any of the versions that would come later. Aside from what is a second-rate recording, the main disappointment here is that Eric Dolphy, always the star soloist in this group, is clearly not at his best.

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Johnny Coles’s elegant trumpet contributions provide many of the most interesting details. Without question, it’s still one of the great Mingus bands, which means flashes of genius glint through the wreckage, but this is very much one for completists only. Richard Cook