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October 02, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-02

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The Michigon Daily-Tuesday, October 2, 1979-Page 7

Two or three shades of

Mingus prevail

Saturday Night
There are two central theories about
Charles Mingus' music and career: A)
In the words of former Mingus sideman
John Handy, "He is definitely, in the
true sense, a giant and maybe even a
genius. He has all the qualities." B) As
has been said by Village Voice writer
Robert Christgau, Mingus was as much
a simple jokester and an "eccentric" as
he was a great man.
The truth is somewhere in between.
Mingus could be destructively, incom-
municably wnird, and he certainly
released more than his share of poor
music. But the fact remains - when
Mingus was hot, he was as sharp and
bfeautiful as anybody.
S'aturday evening's Jazz Festival
show, the one most purely of Mingus
music by virtue of the presence of one-
time Mingus sideman Larry Coryell
and the headlining band of Mingus
alumni, the Mingus Dynasty Band, was
similarly as jagged and uneven as the
whole of Mingus music.
FOR YEARS Mingus had in various
ways railed against amplified music,
and thus it was a surprise to find him
recording with the electric Coryell in
his last years. Except for a finale
"Take the A Train" performed with the
Dynasty Band, Coryell performed
alone, both on electric and acoustic
guitars. The problems with Coryell's
set were problems Mingus worked en-
dlessly to erase. The difficulty with the
goryell performance was that as a
strictly solo artist, he has a hard time
organizing and unifying his im-
IN his Jazz Workshop, Mingus would
dften tell his band to stop playing, and
then order a soloist to perform for the
audience unaccompanied. "He had a
theory that if you couldn't play alone
first, you couldn't play with anyone
else," Mingus drummer Danny Rich-
iond said in a recent issue of Down-
h eat. Although Coryell has garnered a
certain following on the basis of his solo
work, it seems to me he could do with
some old-fashioned Mingus rage.
p It was not for the fact that Coryell's
palette was limited that the set failed.
His tone poems were based on his own
melodies, as well as Jimmy Webb
songs, and standards such as "My Fun-
ny Valentine" and Chick Corea 's
:Spain. "
: The man is definitely a masterful
4iusician, capable of staggering runs
4nd eruptively melodic single-note
statements. But to build a solid song,
one doesn't need just fine mortar, but
ilso a knowledgeable architect. And
clearly, Coryell is at a loss when he
tries to construct his improvisations -.
they are angular, disjointed messes.
- IF FOR NO other reason than they
were playing arrangements, the
Mingus Dynasty Band was easier to get
a handle on. But song structures aside,
yhat was by far most interesting about
the unit was how the musicians,
familiar with many different eras of
iingus music, did or didn't relate to
each other. Occasionally, the various
born players seemed to be stepping on
each others' toes: there was the shout
and squawk alto lyricism of John Han-
dy vs. the rock and roll bappisms of both
trumpeter Randy Brecker and tenor
sax Joe Farrell vs. the studied and
4iodest coolness of trombonist Jimmy
Knepper. Sometimes it worked, and oc-
easionally it didn't.
TTHE HIGHLIGHT of the show was
the rhythm section's performance.
Pianist Don Pullen, bassist Charlie

Laden and drummer Danny Richmond
formed this wonderful, intense unit that
by far seemed most purely "into"
every song. If the Dynasty Band had in-
stead been billed as the Dynasty Trio,
there is a good chance the show would
have been even better.
I have always thought Haden looked
like Poindexter from Felix the Cat, and
in fact, his playing is nothing if not
schoolish and intellectual. Saturday
night the other two acted as perfect
foils; Pullen was intense but comical,
and Richmond exuded as much
exuberance as a kindergarten class -
and certainly enough to counter
Haden's sobriety.
But although the attention was
focused on him (because he was filling
the great bass player's shoes and
It J K AP"

because he may well be the greatest
bass player alive), Pullen and Rich-
mond stole the show. Pullen's brillian-
tly Monkish chiaroscuro musical
question marks, notably in the solos to
"Boogie Stop Shuffle" and the mobius
strip that is "Sue's Changes" time and
again caused gasps.
From the start, Richmond was a joy
to watch. His style is somewhat restric-
tive, but he listens to the others like
nobody else in the band, and he con-
stantly came up with wonderfully
creative fills.
What an imposing shadow it must be
to work under - it is not just tih n i-h of
Charles Mingus that these guys labor
beneath: They have to face the
multiplicity of Mingus myths. With
quite a range of years and styles, and
most of all, a range of personalities, the
Mingus Dynasty Band does a fine job of
perpetuating a great man's music.

Moye enter the small stage playing an
African wind instrument and hand
drum, respectively. The essential
African mode of wind and percussion is
stretched to include Jarman on tenor
and alto sax, clarinet, flute, and a
variety of smaller winds playing off
Moyer exhaustive array of African and
western percussion. The limitations of
the duo setting are overcome by sheer
diversity and extemporaneous brillian-
fascinating drummer; engrossing in his
rhythmic dexterity and discipline, en-
tertaining through his deployment of
sound for its own sake. An assortment
of whistles, shakers, metal clangers,
and bells provide a sense of humor to
otherwise seriously performed music.
Relaxed yet expressionless behind the
traps, Moye combines a facile den-
seness with a lightening touch in an

Sunday Night
Saturday evening we saw Larry
Coryell, an artist unable to mold the
fountain-like eruption of ideas in his
head into something cohesive and
coherent. The Sunday evening show
was quite the opposite, for McCoy
Tyner is nothing if not a pianist able to
create long musical improvisations as
fascinating and involved as a novel by
Tyner and his six-man band became
the sole act on the bill after Oscar
Peterson cancelled out when his wife
became seriously ill that afternoon.
(Tickets from Sunday's show will be
honored at a soon-to-be-scheduled
Peterson performance). tyner has a
finely developed sense of the dramatic,
one which moves in slowly-

orchestrated sweeps with tremendous1
impact. And of course, Sunday night
Tyner displayed his truly personal
lyrical approach to the keyboard, a
warm and rich interpretation of the1
organic nature of the acoustic piano. So
how come his show became more
tedious as the evening went on?
What was involved and introspective
when he played solo became
frustratingly ponderous and bullying
with the unit. There was no escape from
the constant tumult of the group - and
it wasn't an enriching tumult to find
one's self in.
Tyner played a set of essentially six-
ties-minded freak-out music; the band
dug a groove deep into the recesses of
our memory, and lots of loud noises
were made. Many of the solos in the
group were at least in parts enthralling
- and of course, there was always the
The Middle English Dictionary, com-
piled at the University since 1930, is in
use throughout the world. The dic-
tionary, defining meanings of all
English words preserved in documents
written between 1100 and 1500, has been
published through a portion of the letter

piano of Tyner. Still, it was by and large
a wearying set. And for Tyner, a giant
of the keyboards and a strong, silent
jazz statesman, this was all unfor-
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Sunday, October 7-4:00 p.m.
"fie Buddhist Way to wodld Peace"

Daily Photo by PAUL ENGSTROM
Participating in a wild, elongated musical performance called Egwu-anwu, Joseph Jarman and Don Moye take their
audience to the fringes of Aro-American music. The performance took place at the second annual Ann Arbor Jazz

Festival, sponsored by Eclipse Jazz.
Sunday Afternoon
Aside from all the excitement at Hill
Auditorium this weekend, perhaps the
most interesting performance of this
year's jazz festival went unnoticed by
the majority of patrons. Joseph Jarman
and Famoudou Don Moye - two-fifths
of the infamous Art Ensemble of
Chicago - performed two sets of duets
in the tiny Residential College
Auditorium in East Quad. As members
of the Association for the Advancement
of Creative Music (AACM), these men
are committed to the exploration of new
musical forms in a spontaneous, free
THEY ARE vanguards with a
remarkably clear view of their past, ex-
tending from recent jazz influences to
their primary source, African music.
This perception is political as well as
musical; the AACM is an aesthetic
response to the heightened black con-
sciousness of the last decade. The
African influence is the key to under-
standing the sonic fury of this duo.
Traditional and familiar jazz elements
are integrated into a continual spon-
taneous flow of percussion.
One can feel the mutual sensitivity
and cooperation as soon as Jarman and

unerring flow of improvisation. Ador-
ned with bells and'the like, his every
movement blends into the rhythm.
Joseph Jarman does a great deal
more than simply compliment or con-
trast this overwhelming beat. He is the
duo's melodic direction, blowing
soothing flute over the playful ex-
traneous percussion, or driving Moye's
rhythmic business with inventive sax
soloing. Like -Moye, Jarman is in-
trigued by the basic sonic properties of
his instruments, experimenting with
breathing techniques and pitch quality
in a sometimes violently expressive sax
style. On clarinet he copped a subtle
Eastern influence, sounding like a cross
between Benny Goodman and a manic
snake charmer.
ALTHOUGH ostensibly divided into
three segments, Sunday afternoon's
first performance was an exhaustive
90-minute jam. Like most all truly
original music, the work of Jarman and
Moye is alternately boring and unset-
tling to a new listener. Willing suspen-
sion of disbelief and the relaxation of
musical expectations are required for
even the most casual listening. For
one's trouble, one is included in a
cultural and emotional communication
that is as much fun as it is meaningful.
And that's what jazz is all about,

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