Charles Mingus

The Complete Town Hall Concert

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The Complete Town Hall Concert was considered a low point in Charles Mingus' career. He had convinced the record company to let him record with a 30-piece band but hadn't completed the necessary amount of writing, and the concert was inexplicably billed as an open recording session with an invited audience, as opposed to a performance recorded for posterity. Add to this sound problems on-stage and the unveiling of some of Mingus' most ambitious work and you've got an unusual evening of music, to say the least. But the material here also shows that the evening was far more successful than previously conceived.

The Complete Town Hall Concert is most noteworthy for the partial performance of Mingus' suite "Epitaph," whose completed score was discovered after Mingus' death and finally performed in its entirety at Alice Tully Hall in 1989. Many consider "Epitaph" to be Mingus' finest composition. Listening to its germination, as well as the other music on this date, is a rich and rewarding experience.

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