Music News

Critic's Choice

Mingus Big Band, Saturday, September 30, at the Boulder Theater, is an ideal jazz band for the new millennium. It swings with the class of the Duke Ellington-era crews without sounding quaint. It blisters through the avant garde without going off the deep end. It melds sophisticated ensemble work with robust improvisation as easily as it matches flutes with tubas. And it does all this while filling its fourteen chairs from a pool of a hundred musicians. Basically, the band kicks ass. Mingus Big Band performs pieces from the rich repertoire of master composer and bassist Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. The band was founded in 1991 by Mingus's widow, Sue, who also serves as the artistic director for four other Mingus repertory groups. If it sounds like overkill, keep in mind Mingus is the first black musician whose works have been acquired by the Library of Congress. Mingus Big Band is touring behind its latest release, Blues and Politics, a striking record that intertwines music with spoken word. Lineups may change, but that Mingusian vibe joyous and melancholy, angry and sweet, always fired up with the great passions of the living never does. Check it out.
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T.R. Witcher