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The Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard
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The Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard

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The Mingus Big Band
www.mingusmingusmingus.com
(Charles Mingus Bio)

With:
Trumpets: Alex Norris, Brandon Lee, Earl Gardner
Saxophones: Mark Gross, Steve Slagle, Craig Handy,
Brandon Wright, Jason Marshall
Trombones: Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Clark Gayton,
Earl McIntyre (also on Tuba)
Drums: Johnathan Blake
Bass: Luques Curtis
Piano: Helen Sung

At
Jazz Standard
www.jazzstandard.net
116 East 27th Street, NYC
212.576.2232
Manager: Paula Tucker
Press: April Thibeault

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 27, 2011


The Mingus Big Band is one of the most vibrant, personable, talented ensembles I’ve heard in ages. Tonight’s Mingus selections were arranged by saxophonist, Steve Slagle, who was right up front. The fourteen-piece band sat in layered levels, with brass and microphones everywhere, a metaphor for this sometimes rambunctious, sometimes tranquil, sometimes unruly, sometimes harmonious, and always engaging concert experience. Sue Mingus, Charles Mingus’ widow, was in the house tonight, a nurturing and attentive caretaker of Mingus’ music, this Big Band, and all its orchestral formations and recordings. It was a pleasure meeting her again, after some years.

This second set opened with Luques Curtis’ bass solo, deep and intense, but soon the band sprung loose and the musicians went wild, like horses out of the gate. Helen Sung, on piano, picked up the volume, as all three trombonists, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Clark Gayton, and Earl McIntyre, exploded with swing rhythms, driving the measure to brisk momentum. Mr. Lacy also served through the night as announcer, and it was obvious that he had tremendous rapport with this large, energized band. He spoke about a tribute to Eric Dolphy, the great saxophonist, who toured with Mingus in the early sixties. The second piece tonight began with introspective, fluid harmonies, before it, too, flew off the charts. In fact, Mr. Lacy later said he “didn’t know where he was”, that the band was “in two places”, but I can attest it was a riveting, hot riff.

The third piece opened with Craig Handy on sax, and this man is a pro. In fact, he opened the next piece as well. But, here, a gleaming melody ensued, before the band jumped in with sumptuous intensity. The solo riffs were always magnetic, each musician brimming with personality and style. When Ms. Sung was showcased, she took bits of the theme and turned them inside out, a master of the genre. It was at this point that I noticed the role of the bass, the spirited spine of the ensemble, the source of the tempo and mood. When this band gets together in well-rehearsed ornamentations, the surprise effect is stunning. In this case, the band joined as one for an undulating and rippling, extended note, to the vocal delight of the crowd. Just when you think the piece is over, melancholy becomes a kicked up powerful pulse.

“Open Letter to Duke” was opened by Craig Handy, with two saxophonists taking a break. Atonal breezy phrases spin like a top, then the band waxed mellow, and more saxophone solos ensued. As the trumpets, played by Alex Norris, Brandon Lee, and Earl Gardner, were spotlighted, they were also muted, a midnight sound. Mark Gross removed his dapper panama hat and threw his sax deep into this sound. At this point, Earl McIntyre had switched trombone for tuba, and a New Orleans element was added to the mix. Also, at this point, I noted the high level of professionalism of this Big Band, overlaying their spirited dynamism.

“O P”, a tribute to Oscar Pettiford, the renowned jazz bassist, featured Luques Curtis, whose rich bass enhanced this late Monday night set. Soon the three trumpets were racing in brassy competition, and Ms. Sung raced right along on her Steinway. The band ended the set in unison, on the exact same note, same tempo, another big surprise. Timing, tone, and tempo were joined in collaborative enthusiasm. The audience now went wild, on its own. Kudos to the Mingus Big Band, to Sue Mingus, and to Charles Mingus. I can’t wait to return on another Monday night. Check out the Jazz Standard Website for Upcoming Events.



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



The Mingus Big Band
Live on Mondays at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Clark Gayton, Brandon Lee, Earl Gardner
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Sue Mingus at Jazz Standard
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Mingus Big Band Staff and
Mingus Memorabilia, CD's, Shirts, Books
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net