Denver hosts big musical acts all the time, but how many of them involve music inspired by a man who has his own United States postage stamp and whose works were acquired by the Library of Congress? Enter the Mingus Big Band, a troupe that carries on the legacy of the late Charles Mingus, one of jazz's most influential musicians. The fourteen-piece ensemble will bring its namesake's spirit to life tonight in a concert at the University of Denver.
"Charles Mingus left one of the most profound collections of music," says Sue Mingus of her husband, who died in 1979. "His music crosses many disciplines and draws from all sources of music."
Since 1991, the Big Band, which features three trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones, a piano, bass and drums, has toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad while keeping regular gigs in New York City clubs. Expect the players to whale away at new material from their upcoming release, I Am Three, when they stomp into the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 Iliff Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. A pre-concert lecture on the maestro's musical legacy will take place at 6:30. Tickets, $30 to $75, can be purchased at 303-357-2787 or www.ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Newman Center box office or any Ticketmaster outlet. For information on the Mingus Big Band, visit www.mingusmingusmingus.com. -- Richard Kellerhals
Throughout his career, jazz guitarist Pat Methenyhas vacillated between easy-to-digest commercial ventures, such as 1977's Watercolors, and thornier, more interesting efforts -- among them 1985's Song X, an unlikely collaboration with skronk king Ornette Coleman. One Way Up, his new album (and first for the Nonesuch imprint) falls into the latter classification, and thank goodness. The album consists of a single song that's broken into four sections, two of them more than twenty minutes in length. This approach provides Metheny and friends -- longtime collaborators such as keyboardist Lyle Mays and newcomer Gregoire Maret on harmonica -- with plenty of room to roam, and they use it to their advantage, patiently leading listeners more accustomed to relatively smooth instrumental passages into infinitely more challenging territory. As a result, both sides of the guitarist's musical personality are exposed, and they play surprisingly well with each other.
Metheny performs at 8 p.m. tonight at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Doors open an hour before showtime. Tickets range from $39 to $69; call 303-830-8497 to purchase yours. -- Michael Roberts