other words, I am three"
Charles Mingus, Beneath the Underdog
well known opening words of Charles Mingus' s autobiography
are echoed in the title of this new release, featuring all
three repertory ensembles devoted to his music. I Am
Three brings together the Mingus Dynasty, a touring
quintet/septet, that formed after Mingus's death, the Mingus
Big Band, which just completed an astonishing 14-year residency
at New York's Fez Under the Time Café 4 years at
Iridium and now Mondays at Jazz Standard, and the newest
configuration, the Mingus Orchestra, which features unique
instrumentation including French horn, bassoon, guitar and
addition, I Am Three opens another new chapter in Sue Mingus's
longstanding dedication to Mingus's legacy. It is the first release
of her new imprint, Sue Mingus Music, in conjunction with Sunnyside
Records and Universal Music Jazz France. This new venture is an extension
of her pioneering Revenge Records label which she formed to combat the
piracy of her husband's music, and it is also the logical development
of Mingus's own Debut label in the '50s. Future Sue Mingus Music releases
include the first CD reissue of the 1965 Music Written for Monterey,
Not Played, Performed at UCLA, a '60s live date from Cornell University
with Eric Dolphy, and more previously unreleased material. "We
have been very lucky to have regular forums for the music - which have
allowed us to develop audiences for the music and to expand the listenership
for Mingus's compositions," says Sue. "We hope this will continue,
and that our concerts and tours abroad will help to develop new generations
of Mingus listeners and performers."
Am Three's ten tracks extend and elaborate on Mingus's compositional
legacy, featuring several of his ex-sidemen who knew him first-hand,
and some of today's brightest jazz stars, including trombonists Ku-umba
Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig, and Robin Eubanks, saxophonists Miguel Zenon,
Craig Handy, Seamus Blake, trumpeters Jeremy Pelt, Randy Brecker and
Alex "Sasha" Sipiagin, pianists George Colligan, John Hicks,
and Orrin Evans and drummers Johnathan Blake and Donald Edwards.
especially noteworthy aspect of the new album is that, for the first
time, the band members provide their own arrangements for a Mingus recording.
John Stubblefield supervised the Big Band's playing of his own arrangements
of "Song with Orange," "Orange was the Color of her Dress,"
and the bouncy New Orleans shuffle, "Pedal Point Blues," which
all ring with the trademarked Mingusian hornlines, tempo changes, and
driving rhythms. Other artists contribute some singing and swinging
takes on Mingus's music for the new century. Robin Eubanks's arrangement
of "MDM" mixes themes from Mingus's "51st Street Blues,"
Duke Ellington's "Mainstem," and Thelonious Monk's "Straight,
No Chaser." Then, there's the all-time, down-home gospel favorite
in 6/4 time, the spontaneously arranged "Wednesday Night Prayer
Meeting." Ku-umba Frank Lacy steals the show with his "Louis
Armstrong meets Eddie Jefferson" vocals on "Paris in Blue,"
a 1952 composition that featured singer Jackie Paris.
Johnson's arrangements of the Orchestra's spectral, Mahlerian rendition
of the "Chill of Death," which Mingus wrote at the age of
17, and the moody Third Stream-ish "Todo Modo," reveal the
composer's lifelong interest in and utilization of European classical
music. "He grew up listening to classical music," Sue says.
"He was familiar with the masters as well as with the newer composers
like Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Kurt Weill. As he wrote, had he been
another color, he probably would have been the premier bassist in the
New York Philharmonic and perhaps never have composed at all."
In contrast, the Mingus Dynasty's treatments of the searing "Cell
Block F 'Tis Nazi USA," and "Tensions," both arranged
by bassist Boris Kozlov, showcase Mingus's ability to make social protest
Mingus left one of the largest bodies of compositions in 20th century
American music," Sue states. "As composer/conductor Gunther
Schuller has pointed out, it is also one of the most varied and most
personal legacies in any genre of music-- jazz or classical. When Mingus
died in l979, he was considered a virtuoso bass player, bandleader,
and colorful personality on stage, and was sometimes referred to as
jazz's angry man. The greatest change in perception over the last 25
years is that of Mingus as composer." It is this perception that
I Am Three will illuminate.
more information, please contact:
Garrett Shelton at Sunnyside Records
OF I AM THREE:
2005 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)
May 29, 2005
SECTION: ENTERTAINMENT; Pg. G3
HEADLINE: CD LISTENING POST; BRIEF REVIEWS OF SELECT RELEASES
Big Band, Orchestra and Dynasty, "I Am Three" (Sue Mingus
Music). Thank God for Sue Mingus, the jazz widow to end all jazz widows.
It's one thing to strive to preserve your late husband's musical legacy,
it's quite another to create some of the great working ensembles in
current jazz to do just that. The result is way beyond preservation
and neo-classic reverence for Charles Mingus, one of jazz's most explosive
geniuses. It's wild, eruptive, disruptive and ambitious music on its
own that grabs you by throat and holds on. It isn't just Mingus' music
that musicians like John Hicks, Jack Wilkins, Craig Handy, Randy Brecker
and Seamus Blake are preserving but his unique and primal American musical
spirit. One of the year's great jazz discs. Review: 4 stars (Jeff Simon)
New York Sun
May 24, 2005
Amongus by Will Friedwald
are two ways the legacy of great composer-bandleaders is kept alive.
One is a band dedicated to playing his music. The other is new and improved
releases of classic recordings. Mingus has been well served in both
June 7, 2005 Pg. 38
Three ensembles dedicated to the work of Charles Mingus - Mingus Big
Band, Orchestra and Dynasty - keep it fresh and accessible on "
I Am Three " (Sunnyside/Sue Mingus Music). Try "Orange Is
the Color of Her Dress." A-
June 6, 2006
By Paul Olson
album’s excellence, really, is a product of tight, ensemble performance
(a pretty common quality in jazz recordings nowadays) and fiercely emotional
commitment on the part of the musicians to the composer’s music
(something considerably less common). One never gets the impression
these players are covering Mingus because it’s a gig. And it’s
this unity of purpose that energizes I Am Three, and makes it much more
than just another tribute album. The composer is alive on these recordings.