1955, 1963

The Charles Mingus Quartet + Max Roach (1955, 1963)

Even though it was the dominant form of how we listened to music for decades, it’s interesting to think about how much LPs affected the way people enjoyed music. Limited to 44 ish minutes, artists had to either curate their recordings and performances, or released more than one LP, the latter of which was just about unheard of in 1963.

I mention this because this album is only half a concert and it is, oddly, the much more poorly reviewed half of the concert, I am not enough of a Mingus fan to know how the thing actually played out live, but it’s just fascinating to me that this record is considered less Mingus, its counterpart is considered much better, and both exist separately because of technological limitations. Also, it’s worth pointing out that, according to the information I have, Max Roach barely plays on this. (Why not take the one track he plays on from Mingus at the Bohemia and swap it to this record?)

A final note about the formatting: it would be nice to just listen to these two records as one concert, in the order of the set list – maybe then we could all be a lot more reasonable about this.

So is this record drastically inferior to Mingus at the Bohemia? I haven’t listened to either enough times to really be sure. Moreover, I’ve listened to them apart from each other, along with six other Mingus albums, and I didn’t realize they were from the same show until I decided to write this review.  So my answer to that question will have to wait for later.

I can say that this is a decent but hardly spectacular Mingus live album and I’d just much rather listen to the whole concert in the format of The Great Concert of Charles Mingus instead. So clearly I should have used the wonders of modern technology to do that.

But I didn’t. So for the time being: if you’re looking for a lot of Max Roach, this is not the place for it.

7/10?

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