Mingus Big Band: Que Viva Mingus!: Largely Latin

“New York has the ways and means,” as the song goes: the ways and means to support, among many other possibilities, a big band dedicated to the rich oeuvre of Charles Mingus. The Mingus Big Band is one of the most encouraging dimensions of a sustainable jazz tradition: it embodies the Mingus concept of the Jazz Workshop, an environment for learning and extension in the context of the musical standards defined by the players, composers and arrangers-and in this case, by the great spirit that anchors the band. The unifying concept for this latest outing is the enduring appetite of Charles Mingus for Latin flavorings. The fare runs from 1978’s Cumbia and Jazz Fusion to 1949’s Moods in Mambo. As one would expect from any collection of Mingus compositions, iconoclasm and affectionate reverence for the traditions of jazz vie throughout; the ultimate winner, of course, is the jazz tradition, changed but enriched. Among many notable soloists, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Steve Turre on trombone and shells, John Stubblefield on tenor sax and flute, and Dave Kikowski on piano merit special mention for their contributions to this fine collection.