The first disc finishes up with a seventeen-minute “Orange Was the Color of Her Dress,” which Mingus had recorded as a piano solo in ’63 but hadn’t fully developed it until what feels like right at that moment. The final song on disc one is a fifteen-minute “Take the ‘A’ Train” which re-ignites the abidance.
Disc two has just as much power and fun the first part of the show had. It also introduces us to Mingus’ “Meditations,” another half-hour jam that takes us on a tour inside the mind of this jazz author. Jazz musicians practice their whole life to sound sporadic and off the cuff, yet Mr. Mingus was born like this. His talent reached way beyond what jazz was thought to be. “Meditations” reaches in with its sad, off-key intro that slowly winds its way into a piano walk filled with the bird sounds of flutes, trumpets, and saxophones. Mingus appears to be playing his bass with bow, sounding more like a cello to my ears.
“So Long Eric” is actually a tribute to the presence of Dolphy that night, but it became a lament after his death in June of that same year. Interestingly enough, Mingus goes green as the band plays his idea of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The quick tempo and upbeat rhythm feel as if the audience is moving around in their seats. The show ends with a Mingus-style “Jitterbug Waltz” leaving the students energized and excited. Again the band explodes as the music goes wild.
This live recording is something new, and if it wasn’t for Sue Graham Mingus, we would not have been so lucky to hear this. For the ultimate jazz enthusiasts this double CD-set is worth the price of admission. To hear Charles Mingus along with the Eric Dolphy playing alongside can only be explained in one word, awesome. If you are looking for something less contemporary, just outside of mainstream jazz, then Charles Mingus is your man and this live show at Cornell in ’64 will open your eyes to a whole new idea of what jazz could be.