The Mingus Big Band
The Mingus Big Band The Mingus Big Band remains devoted to the vast repertoire that the late, great bassist and composer Charles Mingus left behind when he died in 1979. MBB plays special big band arrangements by member musicians, as well as Mingus himself and his frequent collaborator Sy Johnson. 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 in Midtown New York City. Additionally, the Mingus Big Band tours extensively in the United States and abroad. In June 2005, the Mingus Big Band released I Am Three, the first recording on Sue Mingus's new imprint, Sue Mingus Music (in conjunction with Sunnyside Records and Universal Music Jazz France). I Am Three's ten tracks expand and elaborate on Mingus's compositional legacy, and the title refers to the opening lines of Mingus's autobiography, Beneath the Underdog. It brings together performances by the Big Band, the Orchestra, and the Mingus Dynasty. The Mingus Big Band has played to great critical acclaim in many cities around the United States, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. The Band has appeared at virtually every major jazz festival in Europe and at many of the major concert halls, including the Barbican in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and has been featured on television in Japan, Germany, Brazil, and Italy. They have also been heard in the U.S. on NPR, live from both the Chicago and Detroit Jazz Festivals. In 1993, the musicians performed in Washington, D.C. at the Academy of Arts and Sciences to celebrate the acquisition of Mingus' music by the Library of Congress (the first African-American musician to achieve this). Both the JazzTimes and Down Beat critics and readers have voted the Mingus Big Band "Best Big Band" for several years running. In addition, the New York Jazz Awards presented Mingus Big Band with both the “Best Big Band” and “Best Touring Band” Awards in 1999. The Mingus Big Band released seven highly acclaimed CDs on the Dreyfus label. The 2002 release, Tonight At Noon: Three or Four Shades Of Love, featuring the Mingus Big Band and introducing the Charles Mingus Orchestra with guest vocalist Elvis Costello, earned a Grammy nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in January 2003. Gunslinging Birds was nominated for a 1996 Grammy for "Best Large Ensemble Jazz Recording” and won the 1996 NAIRD INDIE Award for "Best Mainstream Jazz Recording." Live in Time was released in 1997 and was also nominated for a Grammy. The 1999 release, Blues & Politics, lives up to the JazzTimes assertion that the Mingus Big Band is "the smokingest big band on the planet!" In 2002, Pantheon (Random House) released Sue Mingus’ memoir of her life with Mingus (titled Tonight at Noon) to great critical acclaim. In conjunction with the book publication and Mingus’ 80th birthday year, Sue Mingus and members of the band made numerous appearances at Borders and Barnes & Noble bookstores across the country.