Epitaph (Charles Mingus Album) - 1962 Version

1962 Version

There was one ill-fated attempt to record some of this during Mingus's lifetime, in New York City on October 12, 1962. The album Town Hall Concert (United Artists UAJ 14024) includes the tracks "Epitaph Pt. I" and "Epitaph Pt. II", as well as "Clark in the Dark", for trumpeter Clark Terry, who played in the band.

The musicians included:

Woodwinds

  • Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone)
  • Danny Bank (contrabass clarinet)
  • George Berg (tenor saxophone)
  • Buddy Collette (alto saxophone)
  • Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone)
  • Charlie Mariano (alto saxophone)
  • Charles McPherson (alto saxophone)
  • Romeo Penque (oboe)
  • Jerome Richardson (baritone saxophone)
  • Zoot Sims (tenor saxophone)

Trumpets

  • Eddie Armour
  • Rolf Ericson
  • Lonnie Hilyer
  • Ernie Royal
  • Clark Terry
  • Richard Williams
  • Snooky Young

Trombones & Tuba

  • Eddie Bert
  • Jimmy Cleveland
  • Willie Dennis
  • Quentin Jackson
  • Britt Woodman
  • Paul Faulise (trombone)

Rhythm Section

  • Warren Smith (vibraphone, percussion)
  • Les Spann (guitar)
  • Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano)
  • Jaki Byard (piano)
  • Charles Mingus (bass)
  • Milt Hinton (bass)
  • Dannie Richmond (drums)
  • Grady Tate (percussion)

A review by Bill Coss appeared in the December 6, 1962 edition of Down Beat titled "A Report of a Most Remarkable Event", and was reprinted in the January 2005 edition.

The concert/recording was extremely disorganized. From the liner notes: "...this record represents a curious combination of open recording session and concert on a New York City Town Hall stage that held thirty musicians, two men still copying the music to be played, no play-back equipment, and a host of unbelievable tensions."

From Martin Williams's review: "The occasion was supposed to have been a public recording date, but the producers' announcements and ads somehow came out reading 'concert.' At one point during the proceedings, Mingus shouted to his audience, advising, 'Get your money back!'"

From the Coss article:

The microphone Mingus grabbed had no amplification, but what he said, more or less, was: "Get your money back. I couldn't stop you from coming here. The press agents lied to you. You've been taken advantage of. Go out now and get your money back. I don't want you to think I've done this to you. It was supposed to be a recording session, but Mr. George Wein, who is a fine promoter, changed it into a concert. So get your money back. The company has lots of money. It would take years to rehearse this music."

The problems seem to have arisen because Mingus had piles of new music in his head, and wanted to stage an open rehearsal which United Artists and producer Alan Douglas wanted to record and release. Then UA moved up the date five weeks, Mingus kept writing even newer music while rehearsals were underway, the musicians were unprepared (the Coss article suggests that in three previous rehearsals not one piece had been played all the way through), and the audience - most of whom were apparently expecting a fully rehearsed concert rather than a taping session with false starts, retakes and edit pieces - was flabbergasted.

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