On April 22, the world observed the 100th birthday of the great Charles Mingus. Among those celebrating in particularly appropriate style were the members of the Mingus Big Band; on April 18, a few days prior to the official centennial, they played a special birthday set at the Django in New York City. JazzTimes is honored, courtesy of Rhino Records, to premiere the video below, which captures part of that event.
After a spoken introduction by bassist Boris Kozlov, the band launches into a Hilton Ruiz arrangement of “Dizzy Moods”—a tune that, as Kozlov notes, first appeared on Mingus’ 1957 album Mingus Three. That trio date with pianist Hampton Hawes and drummer Dannie Richmond was just reissued (on Mingus’ birthday) in a deluxe edition by Rhino, featuring eight previously unreleased recordings from the same session that were recently discovered in the vaults of the U.K. label Parlophone, along with new liner notes by pianist, arranger, and Mingus collaborator Sy Johnson. From there, we segue into a Mingus-style rendition of “Happy Birthday,” complete with cake.
Besides Kozlov, the Mingus Big Band includes Philip Harper, Alex Sipiagin, and Dr. Alexander Pope Norris on trumpets; Conrad Herwig on trombone; Ku-umba Frank Lacy on French horn; Earl McIntyre on bass trombone; Brandon Wright and Alex Terrier on alto saxophones; Craig Handy and Abraham Burton on tenor saxophones; Jason Marshall on baritone saxophone; Helen Sung on piano; and Adam Cruz on drums.
For more information on the Mingus Big Band, visit the Charles Mingus website.