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."
Booker Ervin, who always had a very unique sound on the tenor, is heard in prime form on his quartet set with pianist Horace Parlan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood. In virtually all cases, the jazz and blues musicians who recorded for Candid in 1960-61 (during its original brief existence) were inspired and played more creatively than they did for other labels. That fact is true for Ervin, even if he never made an indifferent record. In addition to "Poinciana" and "Speak Low," Ervin's quartet (which was a regular if short-lived group) performs four of the leader's originals; best known is "Booker's Blues."
Very nice set of Mingus' legendary Candid recordings – produced in 1960, after Mingus angrily departed Columbia records, and was finally given the freedom to work in the way that he wanted. The recordings are some of Mingus best – and they feature a righteous anger and sheer jazz power that's unmatched by few other recordings.
Pianist Jaki Byard's first recording as a leader was not released domestically until this 1988 CD. That fact seems strange for Byard is absolutely brilliant on the solo piano set. Many of his selections (all nine tunes are his originals) look both backwards to pre-bop styles and ahead to the avant-garde including such numbers as "Pete and Thomas (Tribute to the Ticklers)," "Spanish Tinge No. 1," and "One, Two, Five." The most remarkable selection is "Jaki's Blues Next" which has Byard alternating between James P. Johnson-type stride and free form à la Cecil Taylor; at its conclusion he plays both styles at the same time. A highly recommended outing from a very underrated pianist.
A rare treat from soulful reed player Sonny Fortune – a session recorded in 1987 in New York, but only ever issued by the Japanese Why Not label. Fortune's alto has this incredibly sharp tone – searching and yearning with a sound that's as great as that heard on any of his 70s recordings. The group's a quartet with Renee Rosnes on piano – but the real talents on the record are Sonny's, as he spiritually blows his way through original compositions like "Real Knowing", "Space In Time", and "5/4 Train", plus an incredible reading of Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation".