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.” …
Free Concert Opens the 2014-15 Juilliard Jazz Season with New Director, Wynton Marsalis
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble performed with Juilliard Jazz Director Wynton Marsalis at Juilliard’s Convocation Ceremony on September 3, 2014 in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater (Photo by Nan Melville)
NEW YORK –– Juilliard Jazz presents Meditations on Integration: Two Masters of Time and of Times, Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck featuring the Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble, the most advanced Juilliard Jazz musicians, on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8 PM in Paul Hall at Juilliard (155 West 65th Street). Free tickets will be available beginning September 22 online at events.juilliard.edu. The concert opens the 2014-15 season of Juilliard Jazz with new director, Wynton Marsalis, at the helm.
Members of the Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble are: Lukas Gabric, saxophone; Gregg Duncan, guitar; Reuben Allen, piano; Paolo Benedettini, bass; and Jordan Young, drums. Saxophonist Charles McPherson is guest coach working with the ensemble.
The Artist Diploma Ensemble will perform Charles Mingus compositions (Meditation on Integration, Portrait in Three Colors, Fables of Faubus, Ecclusiastics, and Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk) and Dave Brubeck compositions (Unsquare Dance, Fast Life, Strange Meadowlark,We Will All Remember Paul,Blue Rondo à la Turk,Maori Blues, and The Duke).
Bassist Charles Mingus was among one of pianist Dave Brubeck’s champions. Mingus and Brubeck had known each other since the late 1940s in San Francisco when Mingus, a native of Los Angeles, happened to be performing in the Bay Area. The two began a long friendship. Aaron Flagg, Acting Chair and Associate Director of Juilliard Jazz, remarked: “As close friends, these two creative artists often discussed and wrote music about the unrealized promise of democracy in the United States. As we Americans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this program brings these friends together again so our students can explore their music and message from a contemporary standpoint.”
Guest coach, Saxophonist Charles McPherson, has toured the United States, Europe, Japan, Africa, and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton,Nat Adderly, Jay McShann, and others. Mr. McPherson has recorded as guest artist with Charles Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
The next concert in the Juilliard Jazz season takes place on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8 PM in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater and features the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra in Blues, Ballads, and Train Whistles.Bill Dobbins, professor of jazz studies and contemporary media at the Eastman School of Music and conductor of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Eastman Studio Orchestra, is guest conductor.
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.
…”Two years before Ellington died, in 1972, Yale University held a gathering of leading black jazz musicians in order to raise money for a department of African-American music. Aside from Ellington, the musicians who came for three days of concerts, jam sessions, and workshops included Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Mary Lou Williams, and Willie (the Lion) Smith. During a performance by a Gillespie-led sextet, someone evidently unhappy with this presence on campus called in a bomb threat. The police attempted to clear the building, but Mingus refused to leave, urging the officers to get all the others out but adamantly remaining onstage with his bass. “Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music,” he was heard telling the police captain. (And very few people successfully argued with Mingus.) “If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’ ” Once outside, Gillespie and his group set up again. But coming from inside was the sound of Mingus intently playing Ellington’s dreamy thirties hit, which, that day, became a protest song, as the performance just kept going on and on and getting hotter. In the street, Ellington stood in the waiting crowd just beyond the theatre’s open doors, smiling.” ♦