Charles Mingus The Great Concert, Paris, April 1964

Charles Mingus “Parker-iana” (excerpt) 


Johnny Coles (tp -2) Eric Dolphy (as, bcl, fl -2) Clifford Jordan (ts -2) Jaki Byard (p) Charles Mingus (b -2) Dannie Richmond (d -2) recorded “Salle Wagram”, Paris, France, April 17, 1964


Having enjoyed the  Enja label live concert in Wuppertal, Germany, my eye was caught by a box-set vinyl on the French America label of the Mingus Sextet  in Paris 18/19th April 1964, recorded a week before the Wuppertal date.

The sextet was actually a quintet. Despite being named in the credits, trumpeter Johnny Coles was languishing in a Paris hospital bed, having collapsed on stage due to ulcer problems during the performance of “So long Eric” (nearly So Long Johnny). He is present on the record in the form of an edit taken from the Salle Wagram concert two days previously, before his collapse. The title of the album “Memorial Charles Mingus”  also seems odd, as he was very much alive at the time of its release. Or possibly not.

Triple vinyl albums are not recommended for remote control-waving sofa-dwellers. With six sides to play, you get the equivalent of a trip to the gym running between sofa and turntable. I recommend multitasking, by topping up your glass of wine on each trip, thereby making a virtue of necessity, and increasing your enjoyment of the music immeasurably.

Billed as “The Great Concert”, previous good experience with the French America label led me to expect a high audio quality, however the recording is a little lacking in dynamic range and a bit woolly, I think possibly down to the sound engineers rather than the pressing. Though it claims to be Stereo, there is not much in the way of soundstage or positioning. The Wuppertal/Enja recording definitely has the edge. Vorsprung Technik and all that.  But once acclimatised, it’s good enough to settle down and enjoy the music. Before its time to get up and change the record over.

Orange Was The Colour Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk:

Vinyl: America (F) 30 AM 003/005

10 thoughts on “Charles Mingus The Great Concert, Paris, April 1964

  1. I should have done my research. Got a very clean copy of The Great Concert of C.M. off of ebay.
    It arrived today and being a promotional copy, I was thinking – early pressing, fresh stampers. Title spine reads Stereo. Upon opening the gatefold one is informed “re-channeled for stereo”
    Sound is not so great. Time for me to find that Japanese America…. the recording, I mean.


    • Brent,
      This is a tough find on LP. And A2 is often mislabeled as Goodbye Porkpie Hat, instead of So long Eric.
      With many tries, this is one that the dreaded evil disc, Verve, sometimes outshines available Lps. Keep looking!
      I’m waiting, hoping someone will remaster Cornell 64 on vinyl.




      • Hey Daniel,
        Surprised to get a response so quick. Looking at the America labels above it says STEREO. Sometimes things that were recorded in true Stereo were for whatever reason released as rechanneled Stereo. In any case I’m wondering if the various America Stereo releases are true or actually rechanneled but not stated as such.
        The Prestige is listenable, but as said, I’ll be looking for a Japanese America on where else (?) but ebay. Or maybe I’ll break down and get that well reviewed Verve. I did get the Antibes CD, so yeah maybe so.

        Thanks, Brent


        • Hi Brent,
          Off the cuff, I would say that this concert was never recorded in stereo. Though the labels above say STEREO, LJC’s rip is clearly mono or – at the most – some kind of rudimentary, barely noticeable fake stereo, accidentally caused by recording mono to two-track tape.
          I’d be really surprised if someone came up with a decent stereo version of these tracks.


            • Hello Eduard,
              Yes I’d think the concert was recorded in mono, and quite likely to a 2-channel machine. That would give the fake stereo a little bit to work with, as the balance of those channels might have been recording at slightly different levels, thus giving more of an illusionary stereo effect. Due to a so – so sound system and my own quirky ears I can’t tell. The Prestige LP is “listenable” in all it’s re-channeled glory (?). But I long for that Japanese mono LP as well as….. a new hi-fi system, an operation to make my hearing better and last but not least, peace on Earth.


              • Yes, channel balance, plus phase differences caused by faulty azimuth adjustment. The Enja recordings of the 1964 concert tour are in better sound, but they are also in mono in my knowledge. Anyhow – the sound of the Paris date isn’t all that bad after all.


    • 2011, doesn’t time fly? Must have been one of my first posts.

      If I had to choose between French “America” label and Columbia Nippon I would take the Japanese every time. Much as I love France, with a few exceptions I have been generally unimpressed by their transfers, whilst with Japan its the other way around – generally impressed, though they have their duds sometimes too.

      Seller is Andy, the Pole from Tokyo, a good guy and always immaculate condition. You will get hammered on postage – 3 LPs from Japan is not trivial, even when SAL, and probably on UK customs thanks to the stupidity of Ebay doubling up as tax collector, so the final cost has to be weighed, but on quality grounds, my bet is on Tokyo.


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