For the third time in five years, the Medfield jazz band not only earned one of the few coveted spots in the national Charles Mingus High School Competition & Festival in New York, but this time around it also took home an “Outstanding Section” award for trombone. The weekend kicked off with a visit to a New York jazz club Friday night, followed by clinics with renowned artists, jam sessions with students from across the country, live jazz on Saturday and then the competition and awards ceremony on Sunday. Medfield was one of a dozen ensembles in total that performed in the competition.
The Rivers Select 1 Combo spent this past weekend in Manhattan at the 2015 Charles Mingus High School Jazz Competition. The quartet was one of just three ensembles in the non-Performing Arts High school category selected as finalists from the nationwide competition and was the recipient of the Mingus Spirit Award.
The Spirit Award is, in the words of Sue Mingus, “the most important award at the competition” as it is given to the ensemble whose spirit best reflects the unique style of the late Charles Mingus. Rachel Hawley ’15 was awarded an honorable mention for her performances on bass.
Yesterday the Mingus Underground Octet closed the South Coast Jazz Festival in the U.K. Notes from the review:
“The Mingus Underground Octet mined the labyrinthine oeuvre of a truculent talent…
Highlights on the night were Fables Of Faubus, a caustic blast at the endemic racism of the United States, and Better Git It In Your Soul which featured a howling solo from tenor saxophonist Terry Pack.”
Excerpt from The Houston Press:
Charles Mingus, “Original Fables of Faubus”
In 1957, then-Gov. Orval Faubus ignored a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court by ordering the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the Little Rock Nine from legally entering a newly desegregated school. The absurdity of the event, placing military guards armed to the teeth in order to keep unarmed teenagers from lawfully entering school, drew the ire from many public officials, but the most razing attack came from one of jazz’s most innovative bassists, Charles Mingus.
Featured on Candid Records, the “Original Fables of Faubus” remains one of jazz’s most sardonically crafted songs today. It cheekily pokes fun at Faubus’ finer fascist features with a call-and-response approach: “Name me someone ridiculous, Dannie?/ Governor Faubus!/ Why’s he so sick and ridiculous?/ Because he won’t permit integrated schools!/ Well, he’s a fool!”
As Mingus howls his last response without mincing his words, he reminds us that Faubus wasn’t the only public official responsible. Eisenhower and Rockefeller shared the maligned governor’s shame by turning a blind eye to the events, attempting to minimize the stakes on a national scope. Echoes of “Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)” resonate today given the current state of racial politics. From a historical point of view, it wasn’t that long ago; moreover, it also reminds us that there is still much to be discussed.
On January 21st, 2015 — the Jazz Orchestra 1, from the department of the Schulich School of Music at McGill University will be performing Charles Mingus – Better Get Hit In Your Soul – arranged by Sy Johnson. In collaboration with students and teachers from the McGill Graduate Program in Sound Recording, they will live stream this performance!
Visit the link to listen!