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Friday, Dec. 16, 2005

LISTENING POST

LIVE

Mingus Big Band


The Mingus Big Band has dedicated itself to Charles Mingus' music, playing weekly in New York and touring actively since 1991. The band follow The Mingus Dynasty, basically Mingus' last band, which was renamed after his death in 1979, and has been keeping not only Mingus' music but his hip spirit and deep passions very much alive.

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Though perhaps best loved for his raucous approach and wild sense of swing, Mingus was an exceptional composer. His approach to group interaction was equal parts dictatorial and freedom-loving, letting band members play as freely as they liked, but always demanding discipline for the music. He wrote for small groups as well as large ensembles with an innovative and earthy approach.

The legacy is a rich one that fully deserves an ongoing exploration by a devoted band. And the dedication is obvious just from the talent drawn to it -- a Who's Who of New York jazzers who obviously dig playing tunes from Mingus' vast corpus of angular arrangements and blues-inflected style, finding it a continuing source of ideas and still a challenge to perform. The MBB has recorded much of Mingus' repertoire over the years, and their most recent recording, "I Am Three," is vital, colorful and complex.

Live, the MBB dig deep into the kind of riffs that Mingus loved to lay down. The band has a revolving cast for tours, but the 14 members for these yearend shows mix the old and the new. A consistently dynamic band, with potent music to play, the MBB shows will be a great way to swing out the old and jam in the new.

Mingus Big Band plays Tokyo Blue Note, Dec. 26-31, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the 31st. For more information, call (03) 5485-0088.


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