Mingus in Europe soundclip on YouTube
Charles Mingus Quintet, with Eric Dolphy (f,bc), Clifford Jordan (ts), Jaki Byard (p) and Dannie Richmond (d) live at Wuppertal Townhall, Wuppertal, West Germany, 26th April 1964
Recorded towards the end of a European tour which took in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium France and Germany, and many of which concerts found their way onto various records.
Song dedicated to mocking Arkansas Governor Orval E Faubus, who instructed in the National Guard to prevent Federally-ordered racial integration at Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas. Weighted with a political “Civil Rights” message, Mingus played and recorded many versions, of which the most explicit is found on the Candid Records release “Charles Mingus presents Charles Mingus”.
“Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won’t permit integrated schools.Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)”
I tend treat political pronouncements by musicians with scepticism – Madonna, Bono, Annie Lennox: just see-through Fashion Politics. Mingus was not a political activist, but, according to his wife Sue, was “outspoken” – using the bandstand as a platform to vent his feelings on whatever was bothering him at that moment, from the clink of cocktail glasses during performance, to the ills of society. He spoke out at all times, and was prone to hit his fellow musicians, and to punch people at parties. A difficult man but a great composer and musician, whose musical legacy is beautifully preserved in many fine recordings.
Historical Note: just for the record, Governor Faubus was a Democrat.
That cover – another blow against the war on smoking, and the War on Wearing Unsuitable Hats in front of cameras.
“Fables of Faubus” over 37 minutes, meticulous quality original pressing on the German Enja label.