Recording information: Antibes Jazz Festival, Juan-Les-Pins, France (07/13/1960).
Photographer: Jean-Pierre Leloir.
The claim that "This is one of the great Mingus albums," made in the liner notes to MINGUS AT ANTIBES, is no exaggeration. Recorded live at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1960, Mingus is presented here at his emotional, ground-breaking best with an ensemble that was surely one of his finest. Mining the style forged on BLUES AND ROOTS (released in early 1960), the music is an adrenaline-charged amalgam of black folk forms: gospel, blues, call and response and collective group improvisation, all woven through the spacious structures of Mingus' fiercely complex compositions.
All of this and more is evidenced on the surging, riotous "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting," which opens the album, followed by "Prayer For Passive Resistance" in a similar vein. "What Love," based loosely on the chord structures of "What Is This Thing Called Love" is highlighted by loose, improvisational passages and a free-form dialogue between Mingus' bass and Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet. Elsewhere, Dolphy plays alto sax with great intensity and startling, conversational phrasing. A stirring performance, MINGUS AT ANTIBES captures the artist at one of the most exciting points of his career.
Q (7/93, p.110) - 3 Stars - Good - "...The planned spontaneity which Mingus worked so hard to [achieve] comes off on AT ANTIBES, with a slimmed down group featuring the superb Eric Dolphy..."