Mingus Big Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mingus Big Band

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Charles Mingus was a paradigm-shifting bassist, a volatile bandleader, and a quite readable author. But it's his skill as a prolific and visionary composer, of everything from tough and tender ballads to rollicking jazz anthems, that has allowed the Mingus Big Band to remain fresh and viable for the past 15 years. Though Mingus did write large-ensemble material, the MBB works instead from new arrangements of small-group classics like "Boogie Stop Shuffle" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" as well as lesser-known masterworks such as "Free Cell Block F" and "Cumbia & Jazz Fusion." Mingus's widow, Sue, directs the band, continually reconstituting it by drawing from a pool of former Mingus sidemen--trumpeter Jack Walrath on this tour--and recruiting such excellent young soloists as saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy, and pianist Orrin Evans. Take-no-prisoners music may not strike you as the first thing you want to hear in the morning, but that only makes this "jazz brunch" performance all the more unusual. a 1 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20.

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