Mingus Mingus Mingus

First off, I must apologise for the recent drought of material. It’s been so long since my last post, I actually have to get accustomed with the new WordPress layout — how dare they change it while I wasn’t looking?

I’ve been so uninspired of late, it takes wildly unpredictable music to capture my stale imagination. To that end, I have been listening to plenty of Mingus. Charles Mingus, don’t call him Charlie or he’ll knock you into next week and you won’t be able to play the top octave on your trombone no more. One particularly interesting Mingus release is the Jazz Icons DVD of filmed rehearsals with his 1964 ensemble, featuring fellow angular jazz freak Eric Dolphy. The three dates have pretty similar setlists, but the improvisation keeps it interesting enough to watch the whole two hours in one sitting. The first version of “Meditations on Integration” is particularly interesting, with one passage sounding rather like surrealist classical music — Mingus creates sounds by tapping, rubbing and scratching his bass, as well as throwing things into the open lid of the piano.

It is fascinating to be able to watch the group, see how they interact (and how they deal with Dannie Richmond’s crash cymbal falling over mid-song). Being a big Eric Dolphy fan, I watched him particularly closely. You can see his thinly-veiled desperation as he waits for his turn to play. There are stories of him practising on his instruments literally all day — alto sax in the morning, bass clarinet in the afternoon, and then an evening in the park playing flute with the birds. Ironically, a concert would mean less playing for him.

On a different note, I have placed an order for a new television. No longer will I strain to see actors’ faces, as the size of my screen will have more than doubled! (This is due more to the pitiful size of my current television than the extravagant proportions of the new one.) It’s full HD too, meaning all I need now is a Blu-Ray player. And… well, all the other stuff that a Blu-Ray player necessitates.

I’ve been rather frustrated whilst browsing the Blu-Ray discs on offer. There are a good few films released on region-locked discs in America that haven’t yet made their way to these shores — particularly classics like The Third Man and Casablanca. I’m tempted to track down some sort of region-free player, but the expense and inconvenience may be considerable, especially for films I do already own on DVD. Still, I look forward to seeing films in greater clarity than I had previously been able to enjoy at home.

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