music

"A Tribute to Charles Mingus" jazz concert Feb. 28

Ralph Bowen, Joe Magnarelli, Conrad Herwig
Members of the Rutgers Jazz Faculty Septet

The Rutgers Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Faculty Septet are set to honor legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus. The concert, A Tribute to Charles Mingus, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, at Nicholas Music Center. Trombonist and vocalist Ku-umba Frank Lacy is the featured guest artist.

Jazz program chair and longtime Mingus Big Band member Conrad Herwig directs the event, which will also feature an appearance by Mingus’ widow, Sue Mingus. Ms. Mingus will receive a lifetime achievement award from the New Jersey Jazz Society at the concert, which honors Mingus’ 90th birthday.

“People who don’t like jazz like Mingus, and people who like jazz like Mingus,” says Herwig, who points out that the prolific composer’s work embraces blues, “hardcore jazz language” and avant-garde language, as well as classical idioms. “His music is accessible on many levels. The average listener is drawn in by the down-home quality; hardcore listeners are drawn in by the complexity and improvisation.”

Selections will include the jazz standard Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, The Children’s Hour from Mingus’ epic jazz symphony Epitaph and the experimental Pithecanthropus Erectus. Herwig says he also plans to feature the politically charged Fables of Faubus, a protest song directed at then-Gov. Orval E. Faubus of Arkansas, who called out the National Guard to prevent the racial integration of Little Rock Central High School.

“Mingus was never satisfied with the status quo,” Herwig says. “He always tried to find new ways to express concepts. We could say that Mingus is jazz’s Nostradamus: He was way ahead of his time harmonically. He’s still avant garde in 2012.”

A Tribute to Charles Mingus is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at the Nicholas Music Center. Tickets are $10 for the general public and for Rutgers alumni and employees and seniors and only $5 for students with valid ID. Nicholas Music Center is in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

Media inquiries: Laurie Granieri, 848-932-5239