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Review "5 Guitars Play Mingus"
Since Charles Mingus's death in 1979, Sue Mingus has created and continues to direct repertory ensembles to carry on the music of her late husband. The most well known is the Mingus Big Band, a New York institution that performs weekly to packed crowds at the Iridium nightclub. Other bands include the Mingus Dynasty, the original, seven-piece ensemble founded shortly after Mingus's death; and the Orchestra, a ten-piece ensemble that focuses on some of the lesser-known works in the composer's vast catalogue, and which features bassoon, French horn, bass clarinet and a guitar. In 1989, to great acclaim, she produced Mingus's two-hour masterwork Epitaph for 31 musicians conducted by Gunther Schuller at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
In June 2005 she started her own label, Sue Mingus Music, in conjunction with Sunnyside Records and Universal Music Jazz France, and released I Am Three, an album which features all three current repertory bands. An extension of her pioneering Revenge Records label, initially formed in the 1990s to combat the piracy of Mingus's music, the move also reaches back to the spirit of independently released music, a tradition that in part was started by Charles Mingus. Future Sue Mingus Music releases include the first CD reissue of the 1965 Music Written for Monterey, Not Played, Performed at UCLA, a '60s live date from Cornell University with Eric Dolphy, and more previously unreleased material.
Since 1993, she has produced seven Mingus Big Band recordings for the Dreyfus label, including Tonight at Noon (2002), The Essential Mingus Big Band (2001), Blues and Politics (1999), Que Viva Mingus (1997), Live in Time (1996), Gunslinging Birds (1995), and Nostalgia in Times Square (1993), which was nominated for Grammy awards.
Sue has published two educational books called Charles Mingus: More than a Fake Book, and Charles Mingus: More than a Play Along with two accompanying CDs. Both are distributed by Hal Leonard Publishers, along with a dozen Mingus Big Band charts and a group of guitar charts arranged by Jack Wilkins.
In 2002, Pantheon (Random House) released Sue's memoir of her life with Mingus entitled Tonight at Noon, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. It was released in paperback the following year by Persus Books, and has been translated into several languages.