Chicagoans who admire Charles Mingus’ “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” are having a very good year.
In May, Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra played what is believed to have been the world premiere concert version of Mingus’ landmark recording. The performance at Spertus Institute took a while to gain momentum, but eventually it achieved critical mass, enabling listeners to hear the 1963 work in the best way possible: live.
On Thursday night, former Chicago saxophonist Greg Ward reconceived Mingus’ magnum opus, collaborating with choreographer Onye Ozuzu for a spectacle in sight and sound at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This, too, was a significant occasion, notwithstanding the characteristically clumsy live video that flickered on the Pritzker’s oversized LED screen.
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.