CHARLES MIN­GUS

A ring­side seat for mem­o­rable Min­gus live show record­ings.

Prog - - Echoes - SS

Jazz fans are be­ing spoiled right now. Re­cently we’ve seen the dis­cov­ery of ‘lost’ record­ings from Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Th­elo­nious Monk and now, a pre­vi­ously un­heard record­ing from an­other gi­ant of the genre across five discs.

This live record­ing from a week-long res­i­dency in 1973 cap­tures Min­gus’ quin­tet turn­ing in ro­bust ex­tended per­for­mances of scorch­ing ma­te­rial that in­cludes some of the revered com­po­si­tions that es­tab­lished him as an in­no­va­tive voice in the 1950s. His ap­pear­ance at Detroit’s Strata Con­cert Gallery came be­tween gigs by Keith Jar­rett’s quar­tet and Her­bie Han­cock’s Mwan­dishi out­fit. Com­pared to that ex­otic amal­gam it might be sup­posed that Min­gus’ brand of com­bat­ive post-bop seemed back­ward-look­ing. How­ever, through this in­ti­mate record­ing, we are given a ring­side seat as Min­gus more than holds his own against the new gen­er­a­tion of play­ers. Pos­sess­ing a rest­less, time­less qual­ity, Joni Mitchell nailed it when she spoke glow­ingly of Min­gus’ work and the era from which it first emerged: “Mu­sic like this has more power than a decade in it.”

Piv­ot­ing be­tween jagged out­bursts, sud­den dou­ble-time ac­cel­er­a­tions or thrilling turns into har­mon­i­cally de­tailed themes with pin-sharp ac­cu­racy, the quin­tet em­body the dis­ci­pline that was part and par­cel to Min­gus’ rig­or­ous ap­proach. Though it’s stripped back, they force­fully con­vey the ram­bunc­tious spirit wo­ven into his writ­ing for larger en­sem­bles.

Don Pullen’s pi­ano sim­mers against drum­mer Roy Brook’s sharp re­sponses, fre­quently swirling into float­ing clus­ters and spiky shards that con­jure a fugue state of ex­pres­sive­ness which the man him­self an­chors to the ir­re­sistible tempo. Joe Gard­ner’s ef­fu­sive trum­pet crack­les with joy, adding the con­trast­ing light to the dark rum­blings of John Stub­ble­field’s tenor sax, show­cas­ing great if over­looked play­ers of pas­sion. Over­flow­ing with wild, fresh takes and two tracks fore­shad­ow­ing their stu­dio de­but, this is a ma­jor ad­di­tion to Min­gus’ al­ready sub­stan­tial legacy.

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