Thursday, May 17, 2007

Charles Mingus - Epitaph

Dena and I attended a Jazz concert last night at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles which was spectacular. It was a playing of 19 + movements written by Charles Mingus , composer, Jazz musician, pianist and bass. The 31 piece augmented "Jazz" band was conducted by Gunther Schuller. I've never seen a jazz band so large. They say it was "doubled", meaning there were > 1 of the first chair of some instruments. There were actually 3 first chair trumpets, 3 first chair trombones and 3 first chair Saxophones, making a total of 6 trumpets, 6 trombones and 6 Saxes. There was an amazing array of instruments, a Vibraphone, 2 Grand Pianists, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet (you don't see that everyday), bassoon, tuba, guitar, alto sax, bass sax, those huge drums, what's the name of those? The list goes on and on.....

The concert was long, I wish it was on a Sunday afternoon rather than a Wednesday night. Half the crowd left at intermission, as it was already 9:40pm. The movements themselves were an amazing array of jazz, classical, tributes and frankly, just out there compositions. The music seemed alive, expanding and contracting in some places like a pulsating heart and in others, chaotic at first, then calm, almost as if each movement was a therapy session. I cannot imagine the practice and dedication that must have went in to preparing for this concert by each musician. Playing this type of complicated score with its variety and need for classical precision yet improvisational talent is a feat that should make them all proud.

Well done.

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