MINGUS BIG BAND | New York, Jazz Standard

Mingus Mondays are energetic evenings and truly a destination for all to explore jazz-both educational for a first taste of Mingus, and validating for the seasoned, with a special interpretation of his music from each soloist. Both saxophonist Alex Foster and bassist Boris Kozlov gave notes on Charles Mingus’s writing style in transition to their following tunes, making the music accessible to all ears. 

The Grammy Award-winning band opened with a saxophone feature, setting up this Monday night with enthusiastic energy, informing the audience with what to look forward to. The band undoubtedly began and finished strong, leaving the audience completely locked in, left in the moment and promptly ready for another Monday-or the following set! The hour flew by and was chalk full of well-showcased solos bursting with character from every section. Each were so engaging that one may have found it difficult to digest what they’ve heard before the next bite! The rhythm section was incredibly tight and communicative, and it was a pleasure to see Helen Sung, a true dream (and the only woman in the big band that night), gracefully holding down keys. It was amazing to hear her instantly gather what she heard in a previous solo into a following response.

Master Trombonist Conrad Herwig delivered an unforgettable solo on their second tune, Invisible Lady. Herwig could be heard as if having a conversation with himself in the way he used phrasing in response to the changes, very introspective and progressive, like a monologue with reactions to his own thoughts. Each soloist incorporated what the band was playing so well, it felt like they were truly building together. Trombonist Dave Taylor —who played with Mingus himself— could have been mistaken as playing a didgeridoo with perfect fourths heard in the form of simultaneously humming and playing. There was a fun tribute to cult Netflix show Stranger Things in the mix as well. 

Mingus Monday’s are a definite go-to, and due to the fact that the band has many different members playing each week, fans and players alike can continue to both understand more deeply and contribute to Charles Mingus’s ever-evolving musical story. 

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