Mingus Big Band-Orchestra-Dynasty

The MINGUS BIG BAND celebrates the music of the composer and bassist, Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. Under the artistic direction of Sue Mingus, this 14-piece band performed Thursday nights from 1991 to 2004 at the Fez under Time Cafe in New York City, occasionally alternating with the Charles Mingus Orchestra. In November 2004, the big band began its Tuesday night residency at Iridium Jazz Club and in May 2005, it brought back the era of late night Jazz to Joe's Pub every Thursday.The Mingus Big Band tours extensively in the United States and abroad, and has six recordings to its credit, three of which have been nominated for Grammys.
Regulars in the 14-piece band are selected from among the following:
3 Trumpets: Randy Brecker, Eddie Henderson, Alex Sipiagin, Kenny Rampton, Jeremy Pelt, Walter White, Ryan Kisor, Earl Gardner.
3 Trombones: Conrad Herwig, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Robin Eubanks, Clark Gayton, Luis Bonilla, Isaac Smith, Earl McIntyre, Dave Taylor, Douglas Purviance.
5 Saxophones: Seamus Blake, Craig Handy, Wayne Escoffery, Vincent Herring, Abraham Burton, Ronnie Cuber, Mike Sim, Jaleel Shaw, Lauren Sevian.
Piano: David Kikoski, Orrin Evans, George Colligan, Kenny Drew Jr., John Hicks, David Budway.
Bass: Boris Kozlov, Vicente Archer, Andy McKee, Duane Burno, John Benitez, Chip Jackson.
Drums: Donald Edwards, Johnathan Blake, Tommy Campbell, Gene Jackson.

Members of the 10-piece Charles MINGUS ORCHESTRA are chosen from the following (one musician for each chair):
Tenor and Soprano Sax: Seamus Blake, Craig Handy, Wayne Escoffery, Vincent Herring, Mike Sim
Alto and Soprano Sax, Flute, Clarinet: Alex Foster, Craig Handy, Vincent Herring, Scott Robinson
Bass Clarinet: Douglas Yates, Ronnie Cuber, Mike Sim
Bassoon: Michael Rabinowitz
French Horn: Bobby Routch, Tom Varner, Vincent Chancey
Trombone: Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig, Clark Gayton, Luis Bonilla
Trumpet: Kenny Rampton, Alex Sipiagin, Jeremy Pelt, Eddie Henderson, Randy Brecker
Guitar: Adam Rogers, David Gilmore, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Freddy Bryant, Jack Wilkins, Mark Whitfield
Bass: Boris Kozlov, Andy McKee, Vincent Archer, John Benitez
Drums: Donald Edwards, Johnathan Blake, Gene Jackson, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Tommy Crane

The 7-piece MINGUS DYNASTY members included: Craig Handy, Wayne Escoffery,
Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Alex Sipiagin, Boris Kozlov, Donald Edwards, Kenny Drew Jr.

Charles Mingus' left behind one of the largest legacies of composition in 20th century American music. At the 1997 Grammy Awards ceremony, he posthumously received NARAS's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1993, his entire catalog of works-- scores, recording tapes, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia and writings-- were acquired by the Library of Congress. His face appears on a US postage stamp, and his spirit looms over the Mingus Big Band wherever they perform.


Gunther Schuller conducts the MINGUS ORCHESTRA

With his legendary tumult of appetites and energies, the bassist and composer Charles Mingus created a music that was indivisible from his own outsize presence. For this and other reasons, he’s not the most promising subject for a repertory band. But in New York City, at least, Mingus lives: there are no fewer than three legacy bands under the guidance of the bassist’s widow, Sue Mingus. Each is represented on “I Am Three,” a rousing album issued last year on Sue Mingus Music/Sunnyside, and they all take turns holding down a Tuesday night engagement at the Iridium Jazz Club. And on Thursday at Merkin Hall, the upstart of the bunch — the Mingus Orchestra, a 10-piece chamber ensemble complete with French horn and bassoon — will come under the figurative baton of Gunther Schuller, above, who conducted his first Mingus composition nearly half a century ago. Mr. Schuller, who turned 81 this week, has presided over several historic interpretations of Mingus’s music, including “Epitaph,” an evening-length work assembled after the bassist’s death. The Merkin program will include a slice of that posthumous opus, as well as a late-career piece with an ingeniously self-referential title, “Taurus in the Arena of Life.” Rounding out the concert will be “Half-Mast Inhibition,” a miniature epic that Mingus composed as a teenager but did not record in a studio until 1960, with Mr. Schuller as the conductor. As a whole, the evening should present an intriguing argument about Mingus the composer, through the prism of the Third Stream jazz-classical hybrid that Mr. Schuller has promulgated over the years. And judging by a performance of “Half-Mast Inhibition” at Joe’s Pub last year, all parties involved will strive to imbue the music with the urgency and humanity of its creator. (Thursday at 8 p.m., Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, Manhattan, 212-501-3330, kaufman-center.org; $35 in advance, $40 on Thursday.)

NATE CHINEN, New York Times, November 2006

, - November 2006     Read the full article

Gunther Schuller Leads the Mingus Orchestra at Merkin Concert Hall

The most provocative of the compositions was a piece composed by Mingus when he was 17 but not recorded until 1960. It's an accomplished chamber work, episodic and austere.

Nate Chinen, the New York Times, December 2006
read the full article

, - December 2006     Read the full article

Charles Mingus Epitaps's Return

An event that happened ten years after Charles Mingus death created a tsunami spreading throughout the jazz world now known as Mingus Music.

George Kanzler, all.about.jazz - March 2007
read the full article

, - March 2007     Read the full article

Gunther Schuller resurrects a Mingus Masterpiece

Geoffrey Himes, DOWNBEAT - March 2007
read the full article

, - October 2007     Read the full article


artist news

Mingus Big Band-Orchestra-Dynasty website

Download the Press Pack for Mingus Big Band-Orchestra-Dynasty