The city of San Pedro and Los Angeles County was immersed in Jubilee, Social Consciousness, and Pleasure on Saturday, October 4th at The Warner Grand Theatre.
A 14 - piece jazz orchestra, "The Mingus Big Band is led by wonderful conductor Conrad Herwig, who plays Trombone. They performed a marvelous array of pieces that presented profound respect to one of the most inspiring and innovative musicians of the century, Charles Mingus.
The group of diverse musicians consisted of the following individuals:
Trumpets - Lew Soloff, Greg Gisbert, and Sean Jones
Saxophones - Seamus Blake, Mark Gross, Jaleel Shaw, Scott Robinson,
and Jason Marshall
Trombones - Clark Gayton and Conrad Herwig, and Earl McIntyre
Drums - Justin Faulkner
Bass - Andy McKee
Piano - Kenny Drew, Jr
The orchestra began the evening with a Charles Mingus piece, "O.P." This piece honored not only one of Mingus' favorite bassist, but also one of the most profound musicians' to ever play the instrument, Oscar Pettiford.
A superb sensation was generated as Lew Soloff on Trumpet, Jaleel Shaw on Alto Sax, and Kenny Drew, Jr on Piano showcased their expertise.
"Invisible Lady" a ballad that was swathed in beauty with Conrad on Trombone, Mark Gross on Alto Sax, and Greg Gisbert on Trumpet. As Kenny and Conrad exchanged dynamic accents with exquisite changes, the audience had no problem envisioning the unseen lady Charles Mingus spoke of in his tune.
"Moanin" composed by Bobby Timmons added a true blues effect to the mix. Jason Marshall on Baritone Sax spoke volumes immersed with ingenuity.
One of the most notorious out cries and backlash in Jazz history from a social conscious standpoint was made with the Charles Mingus protest masterpiece, "Fables of Faubus".
The emphasis on the resonance of the lyric was exceptionally expressed by each member of the orchestra and the solos that brought out the many complex colors, mood, and spirit of the piece. Several members of the orchestra let outdissenting wails during the song to voice their rebellion against the appalling and ridiculous behavior of Governor Faubus of Arkansas in 1957.
They also shared a wonderful multiparty delight on this tune and their communion was transmitted to us.
Kenny on Piano was superb and their glorious trombone solos featured by Earl, Clark, and Conrad.
The Charles Mingus Big Band painted a picture which gave a true accolade to the Mingus' chant. I would call a revolutionary magnum opus; causing a grand approving roar among audience members.
"E's Flat Ah's Flat Too" was yet another magnificent Mingus song that the group kept us resoundingly revolving through every measure of music as we intently collaborated in listening, tapping our feet, subtly moving in our own dance. We swayed to their collective groove and soloists' swing.
Charles Mingus' composition "Good-bye Pork Pie Hat" composed for the legendary Musician - Saxophonist - Lester Young was executed in a spellbound manner.
Sean Jones on trumpet, Andy McKee on Bass and Scott Robinson on Tenor Sax and Seamus Blake on Sax added remarkable solos to honor "The President or Prez" as Lester Young had been christened by "Lady Day" the incomparable Billie Holiday.
We were blessed the entire night with joy unspeakable. Justin Faulkner, a young high school student astonished us and ultimately took our breath away with his acute attention to everything utilizing bellowing booms to euphoric brushes on drums. Justin’s passion on solos carried us out of San Pedro to perfect paradise.
The wonderful orchestra gave us the desire of our panting hearts with an encore; another memorable tune by Charles Mingus "A Song with Orange".
The Warner Grand was a fiery orange and each person filled with the elation of the music of Charles Mingus presented by the 14 piece riveting and refreshing orchestra.
I highly recommend this orchestra. Please, look them up and if they are performing in your city. I'd further encourage you to even book a ticket for New York and see them in their hometown.