This unique salute focused on rarely performed Charles Mingus compositions with particularly complex structures. Gunther Schuller's well-rehearsed 10-member orchestra not only brought these difficult charts to life but did so with such passion and conviction that this hour-long program became a musical highlight of Saturday's festival.
Bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz and hornist John Clark were among the outstanding soloists in the ensemble, and the unique instrumentation of the orchestra - which also included Jack Wilkins on guitar and Douglas Yates on bass clarinet - added to the beauty of these pieces.
Included in the orchestra's set were two pieces written by the bassist/bandleader while he was still a teenager, as well as "Todo Modo," Mingus' last extended composition, written in 1976 as a film score.
One of the septet's most captivating soloists was young tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a New Haven native and University of Hartford grad. The rising star also contributed significantly to a performance by The Mingus Orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller.
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