Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Free Download from Mingus Big Band
Mingus Big Band Will Be Performing at the Festival on Sunday, August 7
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On New Year/s Eve, 2008/2009, the Mingus Big Band celebrated some of Charles Mingus' best-known tunes from exactly fifty years before, released in 1959 during one of the most productive and creative periods in jazz. On stage at Jazz Standard in New York City, NPR-WBGO broadcast the event across the country in their annual "Toast of the Nation." At midnight the band broke into John Stubblefield's explosive arrangement of "Song with Orange," bringing the evening's performance to a close and the audience to its feet.
Just as 1939 was a year of iconic films that included movies as diverse as Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, twenty years later a series of classic jazz albums appeared that showcased works by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman and three seminal recordings by Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um, Mingus Dynasty and Blues & Roots. Tunes like "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Better Get Hit in Your Soul" and "Moanin'" entered the American lexicon.
Today, the Mingus Big Band, one of three repertory bands carrying on the sprawling legacy of Mingus composition, continues its weekly presence in Manhattan which began in 1991 and continues in its current residency at Jazz Standard. Since October 2008, Mingus Mondays has been a fixture on the New York scene. This first recorded collaboration between Mingus music and Jazz Standard preserves what Michael Bourne, Master of Ceremonies that evening, hailed as one of the best he had hosted in twenty-two years of NPR New Year's Eve broadcasts: "every tune a classic, every player a master, every tune sounding new, every player keeping the spirit of Charles Mingus alive and swinging!"
The Mingus Big Band's concert before a sold-out crowd showcased the wide variety of Mingus repertory and featured dance tunes, gospel hollers, church music, lush ballads and, of course, the blues. The recording opens with Boris Kozlov on Charles Mingus's lion's head bass introducing "Gunslinging Bird," a tribute to Charlie Parker (subtitle: "If Charlie Parker were a gunslinger there'd be a whole lot of dead copycats!") and concludes with a drum solo by Jeff "Tain" Watts. The title "New Now Know How" refers to its irregularity (8 1/2 bar phrases and a 7 bar bridge) and should be a question, according to arranger Sy Johnson. Performed for the first time since 1959, this version features a trumpet exchange between Kenny Rampton and Randy Brecker. Brecker recorded with Charles Mingus on his last album and has played in Mingus repertory bands since they first began, thirty years ago.
Following "Self-Portrait in Three Colors" and "Bird Calls," trombone/vocalist Ku-umba Frank Lacy interprets Elvis Costello's lyrics on "Hora Decubitus" whose title, translated from Latin, means "Time for Bed" - seemingly a misnomer with its fierce tempo. "Cryin' Blues" has a new arrangement by Kozlov for the smaller Mingus Dynasty band and features seven of the fourteen Big Band musicians. Like "New Now Know How," it has not been performed since the original recording. "Open Letter To Duke," an extended work, has been slightly shortened for this performance and is followed by two of Mingus' best known compositions: "Moanin'" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." "Song with Orange" concludes the evening and Michael Bourne points out that, while routine comments about New Year's Eve may refer to time passing, "what's obvious about this night is that the music - composed fifty and more years ago - is timeless." -Sue Mingus # # #