But don't tell the members of the Mingus Big Band that the genre is passé. Catch these musicians in action Sunday evening at Washington University's Edison Theatre, and you'll hear a collection of the best musicians on the jazz scene going far beyond rote re-creation of the music of legendary bassist/composer Charles Mingus. You'll hear music that's vital, energetic, challenging and extremely contemporary.
The continuing vitality of the Mingus Big Band has a lot to do with the music created by Mingus from the 1940s until his death in 1979. Like Ellington, Mingus put together bands full of fine musicians -- then wrote music that capitalized on their strengths. But unlike Duke, Mingus was never afraid of adding a heaping helping of his forthright political and social opinions to the music -- and doing it in a way that added emotion and excitement to his compositions.
The Mingus Big Band, which has played a regular gig at the Time Cafe in New York City since 1991, doesn't tour that often, so this is a rare chance to hear great Mingus compositions played by outstanding musicians. The music begins at 7 p.m. This promises to be one of the jazz events of the year in St. Louis.
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