Bassist, composer, pianist, bandleader, and poet, Charles Mingus was a creative whirlwind. He began his career as a Bop and Cool Jazz player in New York City, before forming the Jazz Composer's Workshop in 1952. In 1955, Mingus started his own group, known as the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop. A year later, Mingus enlisted drummer Dannie Richmond, who was to become his lifelong partner in rhythm. And thus began Mingus's creative explosion. He wrote a series of tunes that featured Gospel-inflected shouts, raucous blues, and Ellington-esque arrangements, showcased on the albums Blues and Roots, Mingus Ah Um, and Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus. He enlisted a big band and recorded a masterpiece of modern music, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. He also toured Europe with a quintet, featuring the great Eric Dolphy. In 1977, after a short retirement and before his death, he recorded two more small combo albums, both entitled Changes. A virtuoso bassist and composer, Mingus irrevocably changed the face of jazz.
Charles Mingus Concert Films
Epitaph: Live from Lincoln Center
Runtime: 2 hr 20 minOn June 3rd, 1989, the Alice Tully Hall at New York's Lincoln Center was the venue for the world premiere performance of Charles Mingus' masterpiece "Epitaph". Conductor Gunther Schuller directed 30 musicians in what the New York Times described as "One of the most memorable jazz events of the decade". The piece had been discovered after Mingus' death in 1979 and painstakingly restored and copied. It is the largest and longest piece for jazz orchestra ever written and is now available here on film for the first time.
Charles Mingus Top Tracks
Runtime: 1 hr 41 minRobert Mugge's SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS looks at tenor saxophone master Sonny Rollins, among the greatest artists in jazz history. Named after one of Rollins' best-known albums, the 1986 film documents an ensemble performance in upstate New York and the world premiere of his Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra in Japan. Interviewed are Sonny and Lucille Rollins and three top jazz critics.
Runtime: 52 minThe Jazz Sessions spotlights Andrew Hill, a great and even groundbreaking composer and pianist. While many of his contemporaries were totally jettisoning the rhythmic and harmonic techniques of bop and hard bop, Hill worked to extend their possibilities; his was a revolution from within. He exhibited a determined command of his materials, however abstract they might sometimes be. His composed melodies were labyrinthine, rhythmically and harmonically complex tunes that exhibit a sophistication born of mastery, not chance or contingency.
The Miles Davis Story
Runtime: 2 hr 4 minTrumpeter-bandleader Miles Davis (1926-91) was a catalyst for the major innovations in post-bop, cool jazz, hard-bop, and jazz-fusion, and his wispy and emotional trumpet tones were some of the most evocative sounds ever heard. He was also one of the most identifiable and misunderstood pop icons of the 20th century. This engrossing British documentary shows the complex layers of this magnificent and mercurial artist. Through rare footage and interviews, we learn of Davis's middle-class upbringing and his early days with bop legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The documentary bluntly deals with Davis's narcotic nadir and his rise from the depths to become a bona fide jazz icon in the mid-'50s to late '60s. But the most penetrating and poignant portraits of Davis come from musicians who played with and were influenced by him, including Shirley Horn, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, and Keith Jarrett.
A Joyful Noise
Runtime: 59 minRobert Mugge filmed jazz great Sun Ra on location in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. between 1978 and 1980. The resulting 60-minute film includes multiple public and private performances, poetry readings, a band rehearsal, interviews, and extensive improvisations. Transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored for the best possible viewing experience.
All The Notes
Runtime: 1 hr 12 minCecil Taylor is the grand master of free jazz piano. All the Notes captures in breezy fashion the unconventional stance of this media-shy modern musical genius, regarded one of the true giants of post-war music. Taylor is first seen musing over Santiago Calatrava's architecture; the pianist's famed eclectic interests extend from soloing, combo and small orchestra work to spoken word performance.
Legends in Concert
Runtime: 43 minJazz Legends - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1929-1943) by Duke Ellington, includes a series of short films made in Hollywood featuring Ellington performing his biggest hits: Black And Tan (1929) directed by Dudley Murphy; Check and Double Check (1930) directed by Melville Brown; Symphony in Black (1934) directed by Fred Waller; Paramount Pictoral No.889 (1937); The Hit Parade of 1937; and RKO Jamboree No.7 (1943) directed by Jay Bonafield. .