Purdue Jazz presents magic of Monk, Mingus and Metheny
Friday, November 21, 2008
Three performers whose names equate to magic in jazz – Monk, Mingus and Metheny – will be celebrated by Purdue’s jazz bands at a Nov. 21 concert dedicated to music by pianist Thelonious Monk, bass player Charles Mingus and guitar player Pat Metheny.
Set for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center, admission to the concert is free.
Wildly different and significantly similar, Monk Mingus and Metheny are all “mainly known for their jazz compositions,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout who directs Purdue’s jazz program. The Purdue Jazz Band, American Music Repertory Ensemble and Lab Jazz Band are featured on the concert.
“All three of these guys are visionaries in music and through their writing they’re trying to do something different. They look at jazz traditions and take new directions. For musicians they are three of the most important figures in jazz,” he says.
The Nov. 21 concert will be headlined with such tunes as Monk’s “Round Midnight” and “I Mean You,” Mingus’ “Gun Slinging Bird” and politically charged “Fables of Faubus,” and Metheny’s “Are We There Yet” and “Heat of the Day.”
Bringing the three Ms of jazz together in one concert also translates to bringing jazz influences from all over the country together. “Monk is New York City, Mingus was from Los Angeles and Metheny got his start in Kansas so they’re from completely different parts of the county and what they do reflects that,” Trout says.
Monk was one of the founders of the bebop movement which followed swing and was a reaction against it. Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were all in the house band at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem where bebop was born. Gillespie and Parker opted for a more harmonic approach, Trout says, while Monk split off “to explore more abstract concepts of rhythm and harmony.”
From the beginning, Monk cultivated “a very unique personality, the stranger the better,” Trout adds. He and his music attracted attention, and “of all the tunes from the behop era, Monk’s are the most played today.” His offbeat approach will be showcased in “I Mean You” and “Well You Needn’t” performed by the Lab Jazz Band.
Mingus had roots in bebop too, but many other elements shaped his music – his classical training on bass as a boy, his hot temperament, his African-American heritage and the politics of segregation.
“There’s a real expression of freedom in his music and a certain bit of anger can be detected. It’s an interesting dichotomy,” Trout says. The American Music Repertory Ensemble will perform Mingus’ “Song With Orange” which starts with an introspective piano solo then jumps to a very up tempo swinging blues shuffle.
His “Fables of Faubus” will be performed with the dialogue Mingus wrote condemning Arkansas governor’s efforts to prevent African-American students from integrating Little Rock’s Central High School.
“In ‘Gun Slinging Bird’ Mingus pokes fun at all the players who wanted to emulate Charlie Parker instead of doing their own thing and how Charlie’s talent shot them all down,” Trout says.
The final M on the concert – Pat Metheny – grew up in the flourishing jazz scene of Kansas City in the 1970s. “He incorporated a new approach into his music that almost had a garage band sound, like a rock group playing jazz,” says Trout who also hears “a lot of the wide open county of the heartland in his music.”
Metheny formed a partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays and that duo is known for integrating different elements of world music into their compositions.
American Music Repertory Ensemble will perform an arrangement of one of Metheny’s most unique pieces, “Minuano,” a musical poem for rhythm section and vocal jazz choir. The concert will end with the Purdue Jazz Band performing Metheny’s fiery “The Heat of the Day.” “It has almost a Spanish flamenco feel, Trout says. “There a flat heat to it that just kind of burns and you can hear the tap of flamenco dancers.”
“Monk, Mingus & Metheny” is part of the Purdue Bands & Orchestra 2008-09 concert season. The next jazz concert is “Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz” on Dec. 12 in Loeb Playhouse.
Forward to a Friend