Live With Eric Dolphy – 1964

Charles Mingus

Arguably the bassist’s greatest band in extended performances

Charles Mingus (1922-1979) led many classic groups in his career, pushing his sidemen to play above their potential with his dynamic compositions, passionate bass playing, and fiery personality.

In 1964, Mingus led what could be considered his finest band, a sextet with the remarkable Eric Dolphy on alto, flute, and bass clarinet, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, trumpeter Johnny Coles, pianist Jaki Byard, and drummer Dannie Richmond.

That group never recorded any studio albums, and Dolphy passed away shortly after the other musicians returned home, but the sextet was captured live on quite a few recordings and, fortunately, on European television.

The Jazz Icon series reissued all of the televised performances, and they are included here.

From April 19, 1964, after Coles had to leave the group due to illness, the quintet performs “So Long Eric,” “Peggy’s Blue Skylight,” and “Meditations On Integration.”

The April 12, 1964, performance features the full sextet on “So Long Eric,” “Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk,” a truncated “Parkeriana,” and “Take The ‘A’ Train,” while on April 13, the group performs two versions each (one in rehearsal and one in performance) of “So Long Eric” and “Meditations On Integration.”

All of the musicians are featured at the peak of their powers, and there are many superb moments, particularly from Eric Dolphy.

-Scott Yanow