New Mingus Recordings for his Centennial Year

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(Photo: Courtesy of Resonance Records)

Charles Mingus’ centennial year will see a bounty of new recordings — both historical offerings and ambitious new works inspired by his influence. The latter category includes a Mingus retrospective on Posi-Tone Records called Blue Moods–Myth & Wisdom, and no fewer than three releases on Sunnyside: an all-star tribute by bassist John Hébert to his hero featuring Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Fred Hersch and Ches Smith; a tribute by clarinetist Harry Skoler that will feature Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, Johnathan Blake, Nicholas Payton and Jazzmeia Horn, with a string quartet; and one by Chicago bassist Ethan Philion’s Meditations on Mingus, a 10-piece ensemble.

Meanwhile, Resonance Records, curator of previously unreleased jazz recordings, has unearthed a three-LP (or three-CD) project more than 10 years in the works — Mingus: The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s. The unheard-until-now London club performance features Mingus’ 1972 touring sextet featuring Charles McPherson on alto saxophone, Bobby Jones on tenor saxophone, and three remarkable new members: John Foster on piano (and occasional vocals), Detroit drummer Roy Brooks and trumpeter Jon Faddis, then a 19-year-old phenom.

The music was recorded for release by Columbia Records, which stationed an eight-track mobile recording truck outside the London jazz landmark. But Columbia dropped its entire jazz roster, except for Miles Davis, in 1973. The album never came out.

The tapes, which were recorded with great fidelity, include songs where Mingus, cognizant of recording an important new album, asked to retake certain pieces. In an interview with DownBeat, label co-president Zev Feldman gave credit to album co-producer David Weiss for handling the edits that Mingus intended.

“David did this with a lot of skill,” Feldman said. “Mingus wanted to retake the endings. He was a producer himself. He knew that something could be a little bit better. He was committed to making these performances as great as they could be.” DB




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