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2006 MINGUS News Summer/Fall

All about … More Mingus Music!


==New CDs==
Two live recordings, Charles Mingus’s Music Written for Monterey, 1965 Not Heard…Played Live in Its Entirety at UCLA and the Mingus Big Band Live in Tokyo at the Blue Note, 2005 will be released simultaneously on September 26. Both CDs appear on the Sue Mingus Music/Sunnyside label, distributed through Ryko in the U.S. and Universal Music worldwide. Not Heard, never before released on CD, presents the composer-bassist on the bandstand leading his musicians through a highly-charged performance. The original liner notes are included, and the CD features a new essay about the historic recording, written by Sue Mingus. Live in Tokyo takes us to the Blue Note, where the band held a weeklong engagement at the end of December, culminating in this live New Year’s Eve concert. We have posted thefull press release for the new CDs on in the news pages of the website, and check the band pages of the website soon to hear a sample!

==Upcoming Shows==
Mingus Dynasty Red Sea/Europe Tour: August 26 – September 4: The Dynasty will perform six concerts in three countries, including Israel, to wrap up the summer festival season. On Aug. 26, the group performs at the Cluny Jazz Festival, in the Burgundy-Dijion region of France. Then they travel to Eliat, Israel, for two performances on August 29 & 30 at the Red Sea Jazz Festival. The next night, August 31, they share a bill with Ornette Coleman and Abbey Lincoln, among other jazz luminaries, at the La Villette Jazz Festival in Paris. On September 1, they perform at the Willisau Festival outside of Zurich, Switzerland. The band concludes the tour back in France with a performance on September 3, at the Sully Music Festival, in the Loire Valley.

At the Club: The Charles Mingus legacy bands whose explosive energy find an outlet Tuesday nights at the Iridium jazz club in Times Square, now include the legendary l4-piece Mingus Big Band, the more exotic Mingus Orchestra whose unique instrumentation includes a bassoon, French horn and bass clarinet; and the fiery 7-piece Mingus Dynasty that started it all, back in l979. The three bands continue their interpretations of one of the most vast, varied and personal bodies of composition in 20th century American music. In the spirit of last year’s Grammy-nominated CD, I Am Three, which was the first of the band’s recordings to showcase all three ensembles, the appearance of the Orchestra and the Dynasty in the rotation gives listeners a chance to hear a wide range of compositions, featuring both classic and new arrangements, performed by the finest musicians who have learned this music over the years and have voices and personalities of their own to bring to the Mingus legacy. Set times are 8:30 and 10:30 for the remainder of the summer. Iridium is located at 51st & Broadway. Call 212-582-2121 for reservations.

Happy Birthday, Sunnyside & Schuller! As part of a celebration of Sunnyside Records’ 25th anniversary, label head Francois Zalacain is throwing a series of concerts at Merkin Hall. The series kicks off on Thursday, Nov. 30 with the Mingus Orchestra, conducted by composer, musician, and scholar Gunther Schuller. Schuller, who celebrates his 81st birthday, will take the 10-piece Orchestra through his arrangements of “Noon Night” and “Half-Mast Inhibition,” as well as other material in the Orchestra’s ever-expanding repertoire of Mingus composition, including a new arrangement of “All the Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother, by bassist Boris Kozlov.” Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of show. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.

Epitaph! Dates continue to be added to the 2007 Epitaph Orchestra tour, which kicks off at Lincoln Center on April 25, three days after Mingus’s 85th birthday year. The Jazz Workshop is hard at work correcting, editing and preparing the 500-page score for Mingus’s masterwork for the new series of performances and for publication. The 31-piece band will tour for the first time in 15 years, with new material that was not included when Epitaph premiered. Dates are confirmed at the Tri-C Jazz Festival in Cleveland on April 27; the Walt Disney Center in Los Angeles on May 16, and at Symphony Center in Chicago on May 18, with additional bookings in the works. Epitaph was first performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in 1989 – the New York Times called it the “jazz event of the decade.” Epitaph is the longest and most richly colored of jazz compositions. It lasts just over two hours, and includes a suite of 19 sections, and will be conducted by Gunther Schuller. To learn more about Epitaph, and watch footage from the 1989 Lincoln Center concert, visit the Epitaph section of the Mingus website.

It Was a Very Fine June …

==New Charts==
Hal Leonard published two new Mingus Big Band arrangements. “Song With Orange,” arranged by the late John Stubblefield, and “Opus Four,” arranged by Boris Kozlov, are available for sale through the Hal Leonard website for $60.00 each. “Song with Orange” appears on I Am Three, and a version of “Opus Four” can be heard on the band’s upcoming live CD, Live in Tokyo at the Blue Note.

As part of the JVC Jazz Festival’s “Jazz on Film” series, Makor screened new prints of Tom Reichman’s 1968 film “Mingus” and “Other Voices – The Meditations of Charles Mingus,” a 1964 performance first filmed for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). Many people have never seen the 29 minute film, which alternates between a large orchestra performance of “Meditations” and interviews with Mingus. A post-screening discussion followed with Andrew Homzy, professor of Jazz Studies at Concordia University, and author of More Than A Fake Book: The Music of Charles Mingus.

==New Book and legacy CD reissue==
Two books came out, one devoted to profiling all of Mingus’s major recordings, and another, about the history of the Impulse! jazz label, where Mingus recorded several of his most compelling material, includingBlack Saint and Sinner Lady. I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus by Todd S. Jenkins was published in June by Praeger in hardback ($49.95). The book includes a forward by long-time Mingus arranger Sy Johnson, and a note about some of the bootleg and pirate recordings that are part of the discography, by Sue Mingus. It’s a chronologically arranged study designed, according to the author, to serve as a guide and helpful overview of Mingus’s complete body of material, fully devoted to the music, from the 78s he recorded in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid-1940s, through the legendary albums he made for Columbia, Candid, Atlantic, and his own labels.

Also released in June, The House That Trane Built (Norton) is a history of the innovative jazz label that was active from the mid-50s to the late 70s. Mingus of course recorded several important records for Impulse!: In addition to Black Saint, Mingus Plays Piano, and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus were recorded between 1963 and 1964 at the label, under the auspices of engineer Bob Thiele. The book presents select anecdotes and quotes by and about Mingus during his brief tenure at the label, and a special article devoted to Black Saint by author Ashley Kahn. In conjunction with the book, Universal/Verve (which now runs the Impulse! label) has released a companion box set and is also issuing 12 new compilations devoted to the major Impulse! artists. There is a brand-new Charles Mingus compilation, which includes selections from the three albums mentioned above, and “Theme For Lester Young” appears on the box set.

== Reviews & Notices==
Philadelphia & Toronto Love the Big Band! On July 28, the Big Band performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art “Arts After 5” series in a unique setting. Musicians were staged at the base of the main staircase of the museum, with the statue of Diana (formerly on the roof of the old Madison Square Garden) balanced over the proceedings and grand tapestries from the museum’s collection hanging from the walls, which helped absorb the sound. For those who couldn’t get away to a European jazz festival this summer, the Philadelphia concert offered an alternative. In the top floor galleries – where the music is clearly heard – the museum installed in the space a 12th century Spanish church-square, complete with a fountain from an Abbey called St. Michel de Cinxa. The museum said nearly 1,000 people passed through for the concert, one of its most successful, sitting at tables, draped over balconies, and sitting on the stairs. The band started their set with Ku-Umba Frank Lacy vocalizing on “Hora Decubitus,” also known as “E’s Flat…,” which Elvis Costello penned lyrics to back in 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The tune appears on Costello’s most recent live recording with the Metropole Orchestra, My Flame Burns Blue.


  • “It takes a special kind of cool to navigate these complexly arranged charts at a blistering pace and still look completely relaxed about it,” writes the reviewer of the Mingus Big Band’s performance at the Toronto Jazz Festival, June 24. The full story, with some great pictures, can be read at the Live Music Report website.
  • A fine article appears in the August issue of Bass Player magazine about Mingus’s famous “Lion’s head” bass. The article, which appears in Dave Pomeroy’s month “Retro” column, gives an overview of the instrument, made in Germany in the 1920s, and talks about how the instrument feels to be played, and can be heard and seen played by Mingus band bassist and arranger Boris Kozlov.
  • The UK Observer released a list of its “Top 50 Music Books of All Time,” and Mingus’s autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, was ranked #9 by the newspaper’s editors.
  • Jazz Workshop signed off on Italian fashion hothouse Dolce & Gabbana’s proposed use of a Mingus’s classic, “Moanin’, in a world-wide television spot scheduled to air in October.

AND … Downbeat Magazine will be offering as a premium gift for its subscribers a MINGUS T-SHIRT at this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival. The festival runs from August 31 through Sept. 3rd.

To be continued …