Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jazz Artists Guild - 1960 - Newport Rebels

Jazz Artists Guild 
Newport Rebels

01. Mysterious Blues 8:35
02. Cliff Walk 9:37
03. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams 3:47
04. Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do 7:11
05. Me And You 9:46

Alto Saxophone – Eric Dolphy (tracks: A1, B2)
Bass – Charles Mingus (tracks: A1, B1, B3), John "Peck" Morrison* (tracks: A2, B2)
Drums – Jo Jones, Max Roach (tracks: A2)
Piano – Kenny Dorham (tracks: B2), Tommy Flanagan (tracks: A1, B1, B3)
Tenor Saxophone – Walter Benton (tracks: A2)
Trombone – Jimmy Knepper (tracks: A1), Julian Priester (tracks: A2)
Trumpet – Benny Bailey (tracks: B2), Booker Little (tracks: A2), Roy Eldridge (tracks: A1, B1, B3)
Vocals – Abbey Lincoln (tracks: B2)

A1, B1, and B3 were recorded November 11, 1960; A2 and B2 were recorded November 1, 1960.

The (now) famous Newport Jazz Festival was inaugurated in 1954 as a nonprofit organization by George Wein and Lorraine Lorillard in Newport, Rhode Island. It quickly became a huge success attracting bigger and bigger crowds and with the success came problems and finally in 1960 the bubble burst. In that year, not only were the crowds getting unmanageable but also there had developed a resentment towards the festival by a significant number of (mainly) black musicians who left that the organizers were discriminating against them personally and black jazz-new and old. Max Roach and Charles Mingus, both displaying great fortitude, decided to organize their own 'Rebel' Festival adjacent to the Main event. Participating were the new 'lions' Ornette Coleman, Mingus, Max and Abbey Lincoln alongside Kenny Dorham, Jimmy Knepper, Roy Eldridge and Jo Jones. Sadly the Rebel Festival went unrecorded but Candid producer Nat Hentoff gathered many of the participants at a Studio in New York on November 11, 1960 and this album is both a tribute to everyone involved and reminder of a most significant happening in American Jazz History.

In 1960 bassist Charles Mingus helped to organize an alternative Newport Jazz Festival in protest of Newport's conservative and increasingly commercial booking policy. The music on this LP (which has been reissued on CD) features some of the musicians who participated in Mingus's worthy if short-lived venture. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge performs three numbers with pianist Tommy Flanagan, Mingus and drummer Jo Jones; of greatest interest is "Mysterious Blues" for it adds trombonist Jimmy Knepper and the unique altoist Eric Dolphy successfully to the group. The other selections match up drummers Max Roach and Jo Jones with Roach's quintet (featuring trumpeter Booker Little) on "Cliff Walk" and feature singer Abbey Lincoln on "Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do."

Mingus never ceases to both surprise and delight me. He also does a masterful job of repackaging his work (one of many examples: Mingus Revisited was also released as Pre-Bird.) He is true to form here because four of the six tracks on this album are also on a five track album titled Reincarnation Of A Love Bird.

There is a back story to this album. Mingus and Max Roach, among others, had grown disenchanted with that they considered to be poor treatment of black musicians by the Newport Jazz Festival organization. Mingus and Roach were always strong personalities and leaders, so they put on a parallel concert in 1960. It wasn't recorded, but this album and the Reincarnation Of A Love Bird one were recorded in the studio shortly afterwards, produced by Nat Hentoff.

What sets this (and that) album apart from much of Mingus' work during the period (1960) is the line-up. Mingus' regulars, such as Eric Dolphy and Booker Ervin are here (especially Mingus' musical soulmate Dannie Richmond on drums). However, they are also joined by Roy Eldridge on the last four tracks. He adds a - for lack of a better term - nostalgic anchor to the songs. That not to say his playing is outmoded because it's anything but that. It's just that there is a certain energy and familiarity that he brings to those tracks.

If you love Mingus, then you won't be able to help smiling when you listen to this album. I would love to say that it's an unexpected pleasure, but, then, when Mingus the unexpected is always expected.

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