New York–based drummer Devin Gray says that a large-ensemble job he picked up over the summer was like many paying gigs: Show up and then find out who you’re playing with and what you’re playing. Some of the music was that of Charles Mingus, which Gray knew from his undergraduate days playing in a large ensemble that at the time was called the Peabody Big Band. “So I show up 5 minutes before the show, set up, and the leader’s just handing out tunes” on sheet music, says Gray, who graduated from the Peabody Institute’s Jazz Studies Department in 2006. “Three of them were Mingus tunes—and two of them, I remembered the whole arrangement. And when I was playing those tunes I could remember playing in the [Peabody] big band. And I was like, Whoa—I know this music.” …
Read the full article here:
Thank you to Ronnie Scott’s for hosting a great week of Mingus music in London!
“Profound… The moments when the band came together were the most fascinating, because you could see anarchy and tight discipline rubbing shoulders… Holding these things in balance is bound to stir up unruly emotions, not at all of them bright. Sometimes it seemed as if the sheer intensity on that stage could spill over into a fist-fight. That feeling carries us back to something primordial in jazz, which is why these annual visits by the Mingus Big Band have become a fixture in the jazz-lover’s calendar.”
“A great tradition has been invented: this time of year has become synonymous with the Mingus Big Band spending a week at Ronnie Scott’s. Impressive display of interplay and remarkable improvisational talent present all evening.”
“The 14-piece ensemble that plays the music of Charles Mingus is a big beast of an orchestra that roars mightily but knows how to seductively purr when revealing the wry sensitivity that was also an integral part of the great bassist-pianist-composer’s psyche. “
Mingus Big Band (through Monday) A 2011 Grammy winner for “Live at Jazz Standard,” this repertory band has held a Monday-night residency here for years. It also plays this weekend, filling in for a last-minute cancellation — and building as always on the rugged sophistication of Charles Mingus’s music, which still has the capacity to sound radical. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-576-2232, jazzstandard.net; $25 and $30. (Chinen)
On June 27th, the Mingus Dynasty performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (click for link) for the screening of Manny Kirchheimer’s 1981 film “Stations of the Elevated”.
The film hasn’t been seen much since, except by generations of graffiti fans and writers who watched it on VHS tapes. Now it’s being re-released on the big screen, with a showing Friday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It will hit screens around the country this fall.
Stations of the Elevated is not a documentary in the usual sense. It’s only 45 minutes long; there’s no narrative and hardly any dialogue. The camera follows subway cars painted from top to bottom with vibrant graffiti compositions over a soundtrack of jazz by Charles Mingus.
Stations of the Elevated on NPR’s All Things Considered (click for link)