Issued 12 January 2009
The Mingus Big Band
Sunday 1st March 2009
“The hippest big band in the universe – robust, earthy, sanctified.”
Time Out New York
Sydney Opera House presents a who’s who of great jazz artists when The Mingus Big Band performs its exclusive Australian show in the Concert Hall on Sunday 1st March.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of two legendary Charles Mingus albums, (AH UM and BLUES & ROOTS), The Mingus Big Band mine the wealth of his repertoire playing fully orchestrated versions of the songs that keep the Mingus name as legacy.
1959 was a monumental year in jazz music. Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman both released ground breaking albums which explored the opposite sides of the jazz spectrum – minimalism and free range jazz. Mingus’ Ah Um perfectly straddled these two extremes with its near perfect combination of speed, beauty and easy-to-hum melodies.
Blues and Roots was conceived by Mingus’ record producer in response to critics who claimed Mingus didn’t swing enough. Recorded in 1959 and released in 1960, the album called upon African/American traditional music blending jazz with a bluesy gospel sound that opened up his work to a whole new audience.
These recordings saw Mingus infuse the conventional big band sound of the 1950’s and 60’s with avant-garde techniques, idiosyncratic rhythms and humour.
CEO, Richard Evans said, 'Sydney Opera House presentation of Jazz performances mirror our vision for the House as a place of creativity, outstanding performances and, most importantly, people. In keeping with our mission to bring the best international artists to Australia who inspire, excite and entertain, Sydney Opera House presented incomparable saxophonist, Sonny Rollins and the legendary Ornette Coleman in 2008 who both performed to capacity audiences. More recently, jazz lovers flocked to Sydney Opera House to enjoy the tribute shows to the late master of soul, Jackie Orszacsky. I have no doubt that the Mingus Big Band will build on the outstanding success of Sydney Opera House' presented Jazz performances.
Mingus' compositions are rarely performed by jazz bands, largely because they are so personal and because of their complexity. Yet, his music continues to grow in popularity thanks to the Mingus Big Band, launched by Sue Mingus in 1991. Nearly 20 years later, the group with a rotating personnel roster of top musicians has led to a remarkable series of nine recordings, six of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards.
Dedicated to keeping the beat of the late great composer and bassist going, the band tours extensively throughout Europe, Australia and the U.S. They regularly win the Best Big Band awards in jazz magazines' critics and readers polls, having made a name for itself as jazz’s best large ensemble.
“Unlike some, this repertory band doesn't grow stale or ossified — the reasons are threefold. One, the touring personnel is constantly shifting, bringing in fresh approaches. Two, the repertory of Mingus is so vast, varied and unpredictable that it might always be a renewable resource. Three, founder/guiding light Sue Mingus won't let the spirit wither."
One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, band leader and composer. Born on a military base in Nogales, Arizona in 1922 and raised in Watts, California, his earliest musical influences came from the church - choir and group singing- and from “hearing Duke Ellington over the radio when eight years old”. He studied double bass and composition in a formal way (five years with H. Rheinshagen, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic, and compositional techniques with the legendary Lloyd Reese) while absorbing vernacular music from the great jazz masters, first-hand.
The Mingus Big Band allows the masterful swing sound of Charles Mingus to live again in the hearts of jazz aficionados everywhere.
The full line up includes:
Trumpets: Keny Rampton, Alex Sipiagin, Tatum Greenblatt
Saxophone: Wayne Escoffery – tenor; Mark Gross – alto, Jaleel Shaw – alto, Araham Burton – Tenor, Jason Marshall – baritone
Trombones: Ku-umba Frank Lacy (trombones & vocals), Andy Hunter,
Earl McIntyre – bass trombone & tuba
Drums: Donald Edwards
Bass: Boris Kozlov
Piano: Orrin Evans
Producer: Sue Mingus
Date: Sunday 1st March
Venue: Concert Hall
Tickets: $75 - $95
Bookings: sydneyoperahouse.com / 9250 7777
Claire Vince, Senior Publicist
9250 7825 / 0409 560 742