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I Am Three Brings Together Mingus Tribute Bands

June 7 will bring an opportunity for Charles Mingus fans to experience all three of the Mingus repertory ensembles in a new CD entitled I Am Three.

The three ensembles include The Mingus Big Band, which recently completed fourteen years at New York’s Fez Under the Time Cafe and now resides at the Iridium; The Mingus Orchestra, which started a permanent Thursday night gig at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan; and The Mingus Dynasty, a touring quintet/septet that formed after Mingus’ death and disbanded in 1991.

The new album includes ten tracks that feature several musicians who performed with Mingus, as well as other modern jazz musicians. Guest artists include trombonists Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig and Robin Eubanks; saxophonists Miguel Zenon, Craig Handy and Seamus Blake; trumpeters Jeremy Pelt, Randy Brecker and Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin; pianists George Colligan, John Hicks and Orrin Evans; and drummers Johnathan Blake and Donald Edwards.
I Am Three also, for the first time, provides the listener with the band members’ own arrangements. Mingus Big Band member John Stubblefield’s arrangements of “Song with Orange,” “Orange was the Color of her Dress” and “Pedal Point Blues” include some of Mingus’ trademarks, while Robin Eubanks blends themes from Mingus’ “51st Street Blues,” Duke Ellington’s “Mainstem” and Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” in a piece entitled “MDM.” Other tunes include “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” “Paris in Blue,” “Chill of Death,” “Todo Modo,” Cell Block F ‘Tis Nazi USA” and “Tensions.”

The album provides a new stage in Sue Mingus’ dedication to her husband’s music. This CD marks the first release on her new imprint, Sue Mingus Music, which works with both Sunnyside Records and Universal Music Jazz France. The 1965 Music Written for Monterey, Not Played, Performed at UCLA will also be released by Sue Mingus Music. The album is a reissue of a live date from Cornell University with Eric Dolphy and includes previously unreleased material.

Originally Published