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Tight, insightful show
Kepros | Nampa, ID USA | 10/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great window into the power of live Mingus. Compositionally, both songs are beautiful little soundtracks that blend seamlessly into the improvisational guts of each. A better album consisting of a seventeener and a twenty-seven minute bohemoth is hard to imagine-- Praying with Eric, or "Meditations for a Pair of Wire Cutters," never drags, never lulls. Truly gripping jazz that only Mingus could accomplish."
Forty-Five Flawless Minutes with Mingus' Greatest Band
Richard B. Luhrs | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 04/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While it's really not possible to name a single "best" recording from a career as long, varied and important as that of Charles Mingus, 1964's TOWN HALL CONCERT certainly has as solid a claim to that title as anything else in the bassist/composer's vast discography. The two extended performances contained on this disc fairly circumscribe the jazz universe, from raunchy blues to lilting neoclassicism, ragtimey eccentricities to the outer reaches of the avant garde and back again with such seamless logic and unfailingly majestic musicianship that the listener cannot avoid entrapment even after dozens of closely monitored spins.
With trumpeter Johnny Coles and reedsmen Eric Dolphy and Clifford Jordan forming the front line, and pianist Jaki Byard joining Mingus and his longtime drummer Danny Richmond in the rhythm section, the leader assembled what must surely have been the strongest of his many combos for this concert and the European tour which followed it - a tour from which Dolphy, alas, would never return. Seldom have I heard a more thoroughly jelled group of musicians, and the spontaneous collective mapping of these lengthy sonic odysseys is precisely the sort of thing which separates the greatest from the merely great. Dolphy's heavenly flute work on "Praying with Eric" (a.k.a. "Meditations on Integration"), Byard's seismic runs up and down the keyboard, Mingus and Richmond's steady beats and sudden bursts, the grace of Coles and the gravel of Jordan in their respective turns on "So Long Eric" - why bother even trying to approximate what happens here in words? Suffice it to say that TOWN HALL CONCERT is forty-five minutes of utterly flawless, relentlessly searching jazz from some of the genre's supreme masters, and a fine way to reward even the most jaded of ears. Those who've already done so are advised to check out the MINGUS IN EUROPE and REVENGE! sets, recorded in Europe a couple of weeks later, for a more comprehensive (though certainly no more effective) earful of this stunning unit's repertoire."