Although his great Mingus Ah Um album is one of five albums that I have placed respectfully amongst five key sets to listen to, I have personally side-stepped much exposure to the recordings of Charles Mingus (with the exception of some cursory listening to The Clown and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady). This evening at DIY Space For London provided an opportunity to start to address that.
Hogcallin’, a seven piece band offered up a selection of Mingus’s work including Cannon, Fables of Faubus (with lyrics updated to target Donald Trump rather than the racist Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus), Eclipse, Bird Calls, Moves, Goodbye Pork Pie and Freedom
John Edwards (bass), Steve Noble (drums) and Adrian Northover (saxophone) also perform as the trio, Hard Evidence. In this other guise, Hogcallin’, they are joined by Sue Lynch (tenor saxophone &flute), Dave Jago (trombone), Helen McDonald (vocals) and Vladimir Miller (keyboard).
The set was played as a disciplined package while retaining a sense of musical freedom which was not sacrificed in favour of too slick a series of renditions. Although the strength of the performance was based on their playing as a unit in which every member excelled, it was a particular delight to hear Adrian Northover’s contributions on alto saxophone. Helen McDonald’s vocal range and delivery was also a special treat. Hogcallin’ deserve a wider audience and it was a privilege to see them perform in such an intimate and friendly venue.
The short musical performance was followed by Mingus: Charlie Mingus (1968), a fly on the wall piece made on the day in 1966 that Mingus was evicted from his New York apartment due to non-payment of his rent. The film offered a snapshot of Mingus’s worldview on what had to be a traumatic day for him. His disclosures were far-ranging from broader social and political concerns through to candid (and questionable) opinions on women and race. The overall product is an intimate document which is likely to lead viewers to want to know more about its subject.
Well done to Tome Records for presenting yet another evening of film and live performance. It is hoped that there will be many more to come.
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