OH YEAH! Charles Mingus: Live at Montreux 1975

Whether or not you have any previous experience with the music of Charles Mingus, this two cd set is a great addition to your music collection. Caught in concert at Montreux in 1975, it finds the legendary  bassist with his last great band, performing material from the apotheosis of his later period, Changes One and Changes Two. The unit of Don Pullen/p, George Adams/ts-fl-voc, Jack Walrath/tp and the heartbeat of Dannie Richmond/dr were the perfect mix of swing and freedome, and with guests Gerry Mulligan/bs and Benny Bailey/tp joining in, the evening was filled with adventure.

The opening “Devil Blues” is a down home gut bucket of a tune with Adams growling out vocals like a street corner preacher, while “Free Cell Block F, ‘Tis Nazi USA” is a gorgeously textured piece of pastels and impressionism. The highlight is a 33 minute rendition of “Sues Changes” that has the band create moods ranging from sublime swing to an avalanche of chaos, with  Pullen’s piano veering between strident swing and falling through an elevator shaft. A real white knuckler!

Mulligan and Bailey join the band for a graciously delivered read of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” that has the baritonist crooning with aplomb, while the whole band cuts a mean carpet during the closing “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Mingus’ ability to make moods change at the snap of a finger, not only musically but personally, make this one of the ‘must haves’ of a ‘must have’ career.


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