For three decades, Mosaic Records has reissued jazz that’s so consistently fine it has become easy to take for granted. But it is impossible to be complacent about Mosaic’s latest production, a sparkling seven-disc compilation of the complete live recordings of the Charles Mingus Workshop concerts from 1964-65. Mingus was as volcanic a man as he was a jazz artist, and at no time was his music more incendiary than during these two years. The Workshop band included Eric Dolphy, Jaki Byard, Dannie Richmond, and Clifford Jordan, and the music they made was hot and hard post-bop that’s still smoking by today’s standards. At the time, many listeners hoped that the Mingus Workshop was pointing jazz in a vibrant new direction, but in retrospect, these sessions may just have been one last high-water mark for a great American genre before it receded into the nostalgic mists of time. Either way, Mosaic has done an exemplary job of collecting and presenting this vital music, and this box set is easily their finest in years.
The Jazz Workshop Concerts, 1964-65