Mingus Big Band On JazzSet

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Lauren Sevian steps up to the mic to establish "Moanin'" with a powerful baritone sax line. David Tallacksen/WBGO hide caption

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Set List

  • "Gunslinging Bird" (arr. Steve Slagle)
  • "New Now Know How" (arr. Sy Johnson)
  • "Self Portrait in Three Colors" (arr. Mingus)
  • "E's Flat, Ah's Flat, Too" (lyric by Elvis Costello, arr. Johnson)
  • "Cryin' Blues" (arr. Steve Slagle)
  • "Open Letter to Duke" (arr. Steve Slagle)
  • "Moanin' " (arr. Johnson)
  • "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" (arr. Johnson)
  • "Song with Orange" (arr. John Stubblefield)

This is a rebroadcast from Toast of the Nation 2008-2009. The music from this session is now on the Grammy Award-winning album, Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard.

The person most responsible for keeping the flame of Charles Mingus' music alive is his wife, Sue, who founded and now oversees three bands. They are Mingus Dynasty, the original seven-piece group founded after Charles' death in 1979; the Mingus Orchestra, which features bassoon and French horn and plays lesser-known works; and the Mingus Big Band, with nine albums and six Grammy nominations to its credit. These ensembles alternate Monday nights at the Jazz Standard in New York City, where they're drawing good crowds.

For this set, bassist and musical director Boris Kozlov selected tunes from three classic albums released 50 years ago — Mingus Ah Um, Blues & Roots and Mingus Dynasty. The players are all-stars, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, trombonist and vocalist Ku-umba Frank Lacy, pianist Dave Kikoski and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts.

The orchestrations range from earthy and soulful to rowdy and raucous. Mingus' "New Now No-How" had barely been played in 50 years, and Sy Johnson arranged it for this occasion. Mingus loved Duke Ellington, as heard in "Self Portrait in Three Colors" and "Open Letter to Duke." After "Open Letter," Lauren Sevian steps up to the mic to establish "Moanin' " with a powerful baritone sax line. The low instruments in this band — baritone sax, trombones and tuba, and the bass itself — are to be savored.

WBGO's Michael Bourne emcees the show, sending off tunes and back-announcing soloists. Time is of the essence, so every bar counts as the Mingus Big Band makes an hour fly on JazzSet. As a web extra, hear a younger group — the Charles Mingus Jazz Ensemble of the Manhattan School of Music — play "Reincarnation of a Lovebird." Thanks to the MSM conductor, Steve Slagle.

Originally recorded Dec. 31, 2008.

Credits: Scriptwriter Mark Schramm produced our live recording with JazzSet Surround Sound mixer Duke Markos, plus Steve Remote and his team from Aurasonic Limited. Our thanks to artistic director Seth Abramson and Danny Meyer of the Jazz Standard. Dee Dee Bridgewater's recording engineer is Ginger Bruner at KUNV in Las Vegas, with producer Becca Pulliam and executive producer Thurston Briscoe III of WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, N.J.

Band Members

  • Sue Mingus: producer
  • Wayne Escoffery, Abraham Burton: tenor saxophone
  • Vincent Herring: alto saxophone
  • Douglas Yates: alto, soprano saxophone and flute
  • Lauren Sevian: baritone saxophone
  • Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig: trombones
  • Earl McIntyre: bass trombone, tuba
  • Randy Brecker, Kenny Rampton, Earl Gardner: trumpets
  • David Kikoski: piano
  • Boris Kozlov: bass
  • Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums

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