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Gheorghe

Mingus live after "Changes 1/2" (1976,77)

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Hello Friends !

We have discussed very much about Mingus in several topics (Carnegie Hall 74, Mingus Workshops 64 etc).

I would like to start a discussion about live performances, mostly with the bands with Ricky Ford , Jack Walrath, first Danny Mixon and then Bob Neloms.

I´m sure there are a lot of buddies around, who are about the same generation like me, who also saw performances in that period and would like to share their impressions here.

Well, around 1976 I was a teenager and already a very very big fan of Mingus.

I even can say that Mingus was one of my very first guides to that great music.

I still didn´t have a car, but had a lot of jazz buddies who were about 5 years older than me, and if someone had a shabby old car or a bus, they invited me to go with them to festivals.

It was cool for my parents, if school was okay and it was. 

In  summer 1976 there was the Willisau Festival in Switzerland.

Mingus had his band with Jack Walrath, Ricky Ford, Danny Mixon and of course Danny Richmond. 

Usually during that years, the band started with "Song for Harry Carney" with that ostinato bass figure and quiet voicings, but it was a bit faster than the studio version and the got into dialoques between each soloist and Danny Richmond, really strong. Mingus would play an extended solo running the whole range of his instrument to the highest register, full of tension. 

The second tune might have been "Fables of Faubus" with Mingus shouting the "Faubus Song" (name me someone, who´s ridiculous.....), extended solos by all five musicians.

Then was "Sue´s Changes", really wonderful, a very long version. 

The last tune was "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" done very fast. 

And they closed with a very very short version of Cherokee/Koko , and incredible tempo.

In september 1976 it was in Vienna at Stadthalle, the same band of course.

It was a shorter set, since it was a double schedule Mingus and then the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Big Band.

Mingus started with "Fables" and then "Sue´s Changes". During the solo parts I remember that Mixon got into some stride piano, and then some swing with bass lines in the left hand, very much to the delightment of the audience.

And they closed with that short signature "Cherokee".

In 1977 it was the same band, but Bob Neloms replaced Danny Mixon. 

The great thing about 1977 were the live versions of the tunes from his newest albums "Three or Four Shades of the Blues" and "Cumbia&Jazz Fusion". 

They toured very very much, first the States, then Buenos Aires, then Europe and Tunisia. 

At that time, some young bass player from Buenos Aires studied bass in Vienna and brought a tape, which he had made with a little cassette recorder with integratet mike. Of course not the best sound quality, but good enough to hear all the music.

Again, " Song for Harry Carney" even more exiting than the year before, Cumbia & Jazz Fusion with all those sections, first that ostinato thing with the dialoque between Ford and Walrath, and Walrath was really fantastic on his latin solo, then the straight ahead part, the short ballad motiv and the spanish sounding solo of Neloms. Then that two beat stuff with Mingus shouting his rap about "Mama´s little baby don´t like no shortnin´bread" It went along with "Mama´s little baby wants truffles, caviar, diamonds, diamonds in the nose, diamonds on the toes......"

There was a funny thing Mingus did on Cumbia at the ending. It was like fading out, and then only Mingus walked on , tapping his foot , and playing higher and higher notes, until only his foot tapping remained. 

"Three or Four Shades of Blues" much better than the studio version. And faster.

"Noddin´ya Head Blues" with a long bass intro by Mingus.

He was really in top form.

In Europe, they also used to start with "Song For Harry Carney" and would play both "Cumbia" and "Three or Four Shades"..... that´s what we heard. 

Mingus usually announced the titles and became angry only when he snarled "No flash bulbs allowed", or if he saw that somebody would tape the show. And once the mike was off when Mingus would start that "Mama´s little baby" rap, and he snarled "put that mike on, put that mike on, put that f**** mike on !". I think this was also on TV. 

It is said that we don´t know anything about his trip to Tunisia.....

I think that after the tour he had a schedule at "Village Vanguard" and then went again on tour. I heard, that in Boulder, after the concert he went to the piano and wanted to play something for the audience, but had to stop, because the sound engeneer had started a Weather Report tape. 

The album he made for Hampton "Who is Who in Jazz" is a little strange. But all my respect for Hamp, that he dug into Mingus´ music, it´s quite astonishing that he played solos on tunes that he might not have known before and that have difficult changes. 

Only the arrangements were not really hot.

Mingus played some astonishing solos on "Peggy´s Blues Skylight" and "Just for Laughs" (Rockefeller at Attica) and again shows how he plays the whole range of the instrument.

We were looking forward to his autumn tour in late November, it was already scheduled with Larry Coryell , Philipp Catherine and John Scofield, to promote his album and were ready to travel to Germany to see this, but in the last moment it was chancelled. A bitter disappointment.

There was also discussion of a further Atlantic Album, this time to bring Mingus together with Stanley Clark. But it didn´t happen  since Mingus said something that Clark wouldn´t or could´t play A Train, which is nonsense, since Clark know all the stuff from the tradition to funk, and for example his playing with Dexter on "Tangerine" is really a highlight. 

There was a DB interview of Mingus with Arnold Jay Smith, but at that time I still was not a DB subscriber. Maybe someone can show that DB interview with Mingus ?

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Gosh you were fortunate to have all those opportunities to see Mingus live.

There are a couple of 1977 live performances on Wolfgang's Vault (at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Nice Jazz Festival).

 

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12 hours ago, kh1958 said:

Gosh you were fortunate to have all those opportunities to see Mingus live.

There are a couple of 1977 live performances on Wolfgang's Vault (at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Nice Jazz Festival).

 

I know you are a Mingus fan, I think for much time you had a Mingus pic in your avatar. But I was sure you saw or heard much more Mingus than me. We here in Europe, and me being still underage in 1976 (In 1977 I was finally 18) it was much more difficult to get to other towns or even other countries to see festivals. 

hi@ll: Come on, come on, I´m sure there are more Mingus freaks.....

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

I know you are a Mingus fan, I think for much time you had a Mingus pic in your avatar. But I was sure you saw or heard much more Mingus than me. We here in Europe, and me being still underage in 1976 (In 1977 I was finally 18) it was much more difficult to get to other towns or even other countries to see festivals. 

hi@ll: Come on, come on, I´m sure there are more Mingus freaks.....

In 1964, my (U.S. Army) family was stationed in Orleans, France, so I was only 80 miles or so from the Mingus European tour Paris concerts with Eric Dolphy. Alas, at the age of six, I was unaware.

I heard the Changes group in person on November 19, 1974 in Dallas.

My only other known Mingus proximities are 500 miles away in New Orleans--April 17, 1976 (night concert for New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival), April 18, 1976 (at 2 p.m. in the Jazz Tent on the Fairgrounds), and on April 20, 1977 (NOJHF night concert on the President steamship). Unfortunately, I was not able to go to New Orleans  for any of these concerts.

Posthumously, I saw the Mingus Dynasty at the Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth in 1983 (Ricky Ford, Johnny Coles, Horace Parlan, Richard Davis, Dannie Richmond) and actually got to meet Dannie Richmond.

And I've seen the Mingus Big Band/Mingus Orchestra a couple of dozen times  in New York.

Edited by kh1958

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The only time I saw Mingus was at the Newport Jazz Festival in NY in 1972 at Philharmonic Hall.  It was a double bill with Ornette Coleman (quartet + orchestra) performing Skies of America, which I thought was complete dreck.  Mingus was a welcome relief, full of energy and a lot of fun.  He was obviously energized playing to his hometown audience on his big comeback.  I don't remember who played with Mingus, but it was just his band, no orchestral backing (also note that this was not the concert that resulted in the Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert album).  I imagine the evening was sponsored by Columbia, since both Skies of America and Let My Children Hear Music were current albums at the time.  

Here's a contemporaneous review of the concert: https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/05/archives/colemans-skies-of-america-in-debut.html

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I never got to see Mingus. I did get to see and hear one of his basses. . . when I saw the Mingus Big Band in Austin.

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That Mingus SMU concert...I was a freshman at NT that year, and there was ZERO publicity. I only found out about it the next day when a classmate (Jim Lacefield, a gifted bassist, RIP) came into pur piano class all excited about I SAW MINGUS LAST NIGHT!!!! and I was like wtf? dude, and he said, yeah, I was in Dallas doing something and somebody there told me, hey, Mingus is at SMU tonight, so...

I nearly peed my pants in envy, and how was it, it was GREAT he had this tenor player whose eyes rolled back in his head....so, George Adams. This was just before the Changes records dropped, and yeah, i got all over those...great records from a great band.

Never had a chance after that, by the time I got out and about, he was dead, which was a real blow. But not as much as seeing that picture of him in the wheelchair at the White House. That was like, oh shit, this dude is going to die, isn't he. And...I really wanted to have the Mingus experience, really, REALLY did. But no. Not this guy, not in this life.

Carpe diem, basically, because everybody is going to die. Including you.

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I first saw Mingus  in the early '60s in Montreal but he was on piano!  He sat in with a Ted Curson group and took over- shouting directions, stamping his feet and generally dominating the proceedings.  I was too new to live jazz to completely appreciate how lucky I was to be there. 

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13 minutes ago, medjuck said:

I first saw Mingus  in the early '60s in Montreal but he was on piano!  He sat in with a Ted Curson group and took over- shouting directions, stamping his feet and generally dominating the proceedings.  I was too new to live jazz to completely appreciate how lucky I was to be there. 

Did he have Doug Watkins on bass? From what I've read, that was who he generally used during his pianist/leader period.

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I caught him at Carnegie Hall in 1976 with a Flamenco group.  I was pretty thrilled that they did Ysabel's Table Dance and to this day I am impressed to have seen Mingus with Jimmy Knepper.  I was a bit sorry that I had missed the Pullen/Adams lineup, but the concert was as much as I could handle as it was.  They did start with For Harry Carney and played a version of Fables of Faubus/Nix on Nixon from which I recall Mingus and Dannie singing, "Oh, Lord.  Help us Ford!"  I fulfilled my ambition to see Mingus and Roland Kirk play together at Radio City Music Hall around that same date, but it was one of those sprawling festival jam sessions-teenaged me liked it, curmudgeonly older me probably would not have.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

Did he have Doug Watkins on bass? From what I've read, that was who he generally used during his pianist/leader period.

I think not. IIRC it was local Montreal musicians backing Ted Curson. 

 

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Posted (edited)

The Mingus concert I attended was so lightly attended that we walked up and purchased front row seats.

There was a piano below and in front of the stage, and before the concert, a giant of a man dressed all in black came out (Mingus) and started playing solo piano for a few minutes. This was literally right in front of me.

You could hear George Adams warming up on flute offstage right before the concert started, but he did not play flute during the concert.

The actual concert was about 80 minutes long--they played five songs, either Remember Rockefeller at Attica or Free Cell Block F to open, Black Bats and Poles, Duke Ellington's Sound of Love (very long and slow and utterly gorgeous), For Harry Carney (incredible version), and The Devil Blues.

George Adams was shocking to see, with his eyes rolling into the back of his head.

I could not see Don Pullen's hands from my vantagepoint; it was disconcerting to hear such wild piano and only see a serious face looking stoically down at the keys.

I loved every player but only liked Jack Walrath, though he grew on me as the concert progressed; I sort of felt sorry for him to have to solo in the face of such magnificent players.

Mingus complained about the small size of the audience and made a joke about Alan Ginsberg, who was also appearing at SMU for this festival, The Poets of the Cities. Ellington had recently died and Mingus made some comments about him in introducing Sound of Love, but at that point (age 16), I did not really know Ellington other than as a popular bandleader. 

 

Edited by kh1958

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Meanwhile, the now homeless (since Jazz Standard closed) Mingus Big Band makes  return appearance.

Thursday, July 29th @ DROM NYC

JOIN IN A NIGHT OF MYSTIC UNITY // Through the decades Mingus Big Band has become a local New York City institution, playing weekly to electrified audiences and sold out houses. With residencies at Fez under Time Cafe, Iridium, and most recently a nearly 12 year run at the world-class Jazz Standard, only God and a world health crisis could slow these wild and cunning celebrations of the life and legacy of Great American Composer, Charles Mingus

In a much anticipated and triumphant return to the New York City stage, finally again we can swim in the rhythmic vibrations as the party reunites and is more charged up than ever. 

We are thrilled to announce Mingus Big Band at DROM’s Summer Jazz Series on Thursday, July 29th!

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On 2.7.2021 at 5:29 PM, JSngry said:

 

 

 

Never had a chance after that, by the time I got out and about, he was dead, which was a real blow. But not as much as seeing that picture of him in the wheelchair at the White House. That was like, oh shit, this dude is going to die, isn't he. And...I really wanted to have the Mingus experience, really, REALLY did. But no. Not this guy, not in this life.

Carpe diem, basically, because everybody is going to die. Including you.

Yes, this picture of Mingus on the White House ground, were Jimmy Carter greeted and hugged him and Mingus burstet out in tears. So sad.

And really sad the story Max Roach told later, that he was also on that White House festival and someone went to Max and said to him "Mingus want´s to say hello", and Roach didn´t go, he said he still was angry at Mingus for some hassles decades ago with the Debut-Label. And Roach later felt sorry that they couldn´t make peace. 

As you say, nobody knew about his illness, at least here in Europe. We saw in summer 1977 that he walked with a cane, but we all thought that maybe he had a slipped disc or problems with his knees during to all that overweight, something that´s normal for overweight people who are 55 years old. 

When he chancelled that following tour at the end of November 1977 (with Coryell, Scofield and Catharine), we were very disappointed but tought that maybe he has a knee operation and the following year he´ll be ready and steady again.

Then the last album "Me Myself an Eye", where Mingus didn´t play bass. On the back cover Mingus is in a wheel chair, we thought that he wanted  to make an album during reconvalescence after some operation, concentrating more on his composer roll than on his bassist role. 

 

I am very glad that I get so many responses on my topic. Makes me happy to exchange impressions with other Mingus fans all over the world. But on interesting thing: Most of you seemed to have seen Mingus live much earlier than in my case. You refere to concerts between 1972 and 74 (with the exception of the 1976 performance with "Isabel´s Table Dance". Is it possible you didn´t see him in 1977 because he played more in other continents like South America, Europe and North Africa. Here in Europe he was very very active during his last active year. 

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The closest I came to seeing Mingus was in 1973. I was living in Ohio and going o college. Mingus was playing in Pittsburgh that weekend. My best friend who was also fanatical about the music (and he was from Pittsburgh), was as amped up as I was about seeing him play. Unfortunately, I had a girlfriend who was in Buffalo and told me if I did not come to see her (the same weekend as Mingus) that it was over and to never come back to New York. I tried to negotiate another date. She was not having it! I caved in and went to Buffalo. While that same girl and I are still very close friends,  needless to say, I regretted that decision. I was very young and ignorant at that time. What can I say....?

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Never saw Mingus but I did see the ‘Mingus Dynasty’ with Knepper, Richmond, Adams and Pullen (plus Johnny Coles) very shortly after Mingus’ passing.

That ‘Atlantic Years’ twofer LP set was one of the first things I ever bought - still a favourite.

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@kh1958 Yes, George Adams rollin´his eyes. I also found that really scary. Sorry to say,  making grimasses and tensioned face and or angry look is not seldon. Sorry to say I also had such a habit while playing, until my wife said "you play so beautifully and you are lookin good, but closing your eyes or looking up on ceiling is an absolute no go. It looks ridiculous. CUT THAT OUT and  play the way you play and look to the other musicians and in the audience and SMILE. And she was damn right. Music even if it is up tempo and "difficult" must not mean that your face expression prooves this. 

@Enterprise Server I can understand that with the girlfriend. Sometimes it is hard to make compromises. For example: This year, on september 19h Ron Carter will play in town, but this date is our 25 years wedding anniversary and so it is impossible to go there. 

@sidewinder Well the Mingus Dynastie is not the same as Mingus himself of course. At the beginning, they still had his last band with I think Cameron Brown on bass. Later, hungarian bassist Aladár Pege got one of Mingus´ basses from Sue. There was an extended interview with Mr. Pege about it. 
I saw the "Mingus Dynastie" conducted by Jimmy Knepper in 1989, but it was zero to me. They had George Adams and John Handy in the band, but it didn´t happen really. And Jimmy Knepper, the way how he "conducted" and looked really bored, was quite a parody. 

I´m glad I can keep my memories about Mingus alive. 

For those who wrote pm about sending copies of the tape from Buenos Aires, that an argentinian guy gave me during that time 1977: I´m not going to make copies, never ever. And I invited them to join the discussion HERE. I don´t exchange tapes or set lists on pm, but LOVE to share impressions on the board, and also offered set lists when I started this topic.......

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Never got to see Mingus.  Saw a spectacular Mingus Dynasty performance at the Painted Bride Art Center in the 90's.  Walrath led it.  John Hicks, Michael Formanek, Josh Redman, Alex Foster.  Don't remember drummer or trombone.

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The Mingus Dynasty edition I heard also was quite excellent; I went to four sets. Richard Davis, as I recall, sounded magnificent.

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18 hours ago, kh1958 said:

The Mingus Dynasty edition I heard also was quite excellent; I went to four sets. Richard Davis, as I recall, sounded magnificent.

Well yeah, Richard Davis would be one of the replacements for Mingus´ missing bass anyway.

I never was happy with the two basses Eddie Gomez and George Mraz on "Me Myself an Eye". This fast "exercises" on the high register, with the strings down like a guitar, that sounds more like a parody of "bass". Even Mingus complained bitterly. Both Gomez and Mraz ar fantastic bass players, but I don´t really like such solo passages. 

They could have choose Al McKibbon, about the same age like Mingus, and really something. His playing and soloing on "Giants of Jazz" is really a highlight, the way I like a bass to sound and to be played. 

They could have used let´s say Ray Drummond, if they wanted a younger bassist. He was top. 

But about Mingus Dynasty, maybe because I saw the original live and in action, I´m reluctant in this way. I only saw it, when it was on a festival schedule. I was looking forward since they still had some of Mingus´ original players, like George Adams, John Handy, and Jimmy Knepper, but it was really a dead thing. They all seemed to sleep. 

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I only saw Mingus once, on a European tour in 1974 at the Hammersmith Odeon, London. Cannonball Adderley was also on the bill.

The only member of the band that I am absolutely certain was there is Hamiet Bluiett, but I guess Richmond, Pullen and Adams were there as well.

I would love to know the exact lineup on that tour. If anyone knows please let me know.

Sorry to say but my recollections are that the band sounded very tired and I was very disappointed. I was about 10 years too late I guess.

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I´d think more, 1 or 2 years too early. It took it´s time for the Adams-Pullen band to find it´s way and sound, Hamiet Bluiett was not so happy in the band and Mingus also was not so happy with him. He was more docile during that time and I read somewhere that he said in an interview "I don´t care how far they get out, as long as they are swingin". 

But after composing for that new band, without Bluiett, things really started to happen and he was "his old self again", as his wife Sue reported.

The years from 1975-77 were the best years after the famous 1964 year. Such a wealth of new compositions like "Sue´s Changes", "Duke Ellington´s Sound of Love", "Three or Four Shades of Blues" and above all "Cumbia and Jazz Fusion".....And even when Adams and Pullen left, Walrath, Ricky Ford and Bob Neloms and the wonderful Danny Richmond  were very very good players for that great music.

You should have heard them in the years 75-77, that´s the period I can witness that it was really great.... 

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Saw him several times, but 2 stand out: at the Village Gate, maybe 1965, the band was Jimmy Owens, Charles McPherson, Julius Watkins, Howard Johnson and Danny Richmond - memorable, Jimmy Owens’ lip is probably still sore; and 1972, at one of those midnight Radio City extravaganzas which were part of the Newport Festival  for a couple of years - a bunch of people - Cat Anderson, Buddy Tate, Owens and McPherson, Milt Buckner....Mingus played  a long solo at the end of this slow blues number, unbelievable, George Wein ran onto the  stage and hugged him. (The performance was recorded, it showed up on one of those Cobblestone albums from that year’s festival.)

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On 7/2/2021 at 10:57 AM, mjzee said:

The only time I saw Mingus was at the Newport Jazz Festival in NY in 1972 at Philharmonic Hall.  It was a double bill with Ornette Coleman (quartet + orchestra) performing Skies of America, which I thought was complete dreck.  Mingus was a welcome relief, full of energy and a lot of fun.  He was obviously energized playing to his hometown audience on his big comeback.  I don't remember who played with Mingus, but it was just his band, no orchestral backing (also note that this was not the concert that resulted in the Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert album).  I imagine the evening was sponsored by Columbia, since both Skies of America and Let My Children Hear Music were current albums at the time.  

Here's a contemporaneous review of the concert: https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/05/archives/colemans-skies-of-america-in-debut.html

Dreck is in the ear of the behearer.  I was at that concert as well.  I thought the orchestral "juxtaposition" with Ornette's quartet worked out well enough, though I wouldn't have had as much to say as that review.  but Dewey Redman played his ass off.  I just about jumped out of my seat.

The most interesting thing I remember about the Mingus set was the pianist, John Foster.  That's the only time I ever saw or heard him.  Didn't know his name until I looked it up years later in various Mingus discographies.  I remember that Foster's glasses seem damaged and he had repaired one of the side pieces with a band-aid or some light colored tape.  I remember too that he seemed a bit disheveled.  But his piano playing was outstanding.  At least as strong as anything that Don Pullen did with the band.  At a distance of almost half a century I would venture that it was the best piano playing I had heard with Mingus since Jaki Byard (though I never saw Byard live, with or without Mingus).

But the really interesting thing is that, at a certain point, Foster got up from the piano and paced back and forth across the stage in a manner reminiscent of what Mingus might do when he was excited or agitated.  Foster seemed agitated.  Then Mingus got up and started pacing too almost as if he felt obliged to do that.  So at one point they were both pacing on the stage.

Nothing happened from there but Foster was the most interesting figure on the stage...musically and in his stage persona...other than Mingus.

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I was just getting seriously interested in jazz in 1976 and went to the Berkeley Jazz Festival for the first time.  That was the only time I ever saw Mingus and I cherish the memory.  Rahsaan Roland Kirk led the bill.  Too bad there was no reunion.  

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