Classic Charles Mingus Performance on Belgian Television, 1964

In ear­ly 1964 Charles Min­gus put togeth­er one of the great com­bos in jazz his­to­ry. The sex­tet was com­posed of Min­gus on bass, Dan­nie Rich­mond on drums, Jaki Byard on piano, John­ny Coles on trum­pet, Clif­ford Jor­dan on tenor sax­o­phone and the extra­or­di­nary mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist Eric Dol­phy on alto sax­o­phone, flute and bass clar­inet. Min­gus called his exper­i­men­tal group The Jazz Work­shop.

In April of that year Min­gus and his band embarked on a three-week tour of Europe, much of which is record­ed on film and audio­tape. The tour is remem­bered as one of the high-water marks in Min­gus’s career. As Rob Bow­man writes in the lin­er notes to the Jazz Icons DVD Charles Min­gus Live in ’64:

The tour effec­tive­ly intro­duced two new com­po­si­tions, “Med­i­ta­tions On Inte­gra­tion” and “So Long Eric”, while the band walked a fine line between Min­gus’s usu­al amal­gam of bop, swing and New Orleans jazz and the free-jazz lean­ings of the cat­a­clysmic Dol­phy. The result, of course, was some­thing that could only be called Min­gus Music–a gal­va­niz­ing, high-ener­gy son­ic stew that, while the prod­uct of the kinet­ic inter­play of six musi­cians, could only have been con­jured up with Min­gus as the mas­ter of cer­e­monies.

The per­for­mance above is from Charles Min­gus Live in ’64. It was record­ed by Bel­gian tele­vi­sion on Sun­day, April 19, 1964 at the Palais des Con­grés in Liège, Bel­gium. The band had unex­pect­ed­ly been reduced to a quin­tet two nights ear­li­er, when Coles col­lapsed onstage in Paris and was rushed to the hos­pi­tal with what was lat­er diag­nosed as an ulcer. In the Bel­gian TV broad­cast, pianist Byard makes up for the miss­ing trum­pet parts as the band plays three Min­gus com­po­si­tions:

  1. So Long Eric
  2. Peg­gy’s Blue Sky­light
  3. Med­i­ta­tions on Inte­gra­tion

“So Long Eric” was named in hon­or of Dol­phy, who had announced before the band left Amer­i­ca that he would remain in Europe when the tour was over. Sad­ly, Dol­phy fell into a dia­bet­ic coma in Ger­many and died just two months after fin­ish­ing the tour. Min­gus would lat­er call the song “Pray­ing With Eric.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

Charles Min­gus and His Evic­tion From His New York City Loft, Cap­tured in Mov­ing 1968 Film

How to Pot­ty Train Your Cat: A Handy Man­u­al by Charles Min­gus


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Comments (5)
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  • Superb! Per­fect Elec­tion Day music… Thanks.

  • AJ Miller says:

    That was superb, thanks! The inter­play between the musi­cians and Min­gus’s smiles and looks at Rich­mond are a joy.

  • sgtoox says:

    This feels so good.

  • Scott says:

    ““So Long Eric” was orig­i­nal­ly called “Good­bye Pork Pie Hat,” but Min­gus renamed the tune in hon­or of Dol­phy”…

    That’s wrong. “So Long Eric” is a dif­fer­ent tune. It’s a blues. “Good­bye Pork Pie Hat” was writ­ten after Lester Young died and is also some­times called “Theme for Lester Young.”

  • Mike Springer says:

    You’re right, Scott. That was a stu­pid error. “So Long Eric” was misiden­ti­fied as “Good­bye Pork Pie Hat” in the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the live album The Great Con­cert of Charles Min­gus, which I under­stand was record­ed in Paris ear­li­er on the same day as the Bel­gian TV broad­cast. I guess I saw ref­er­ences to that and, in my haste…

    The text has been cor­rect­ed. Thank you for point­ing out the prob­lem.

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