MacPhail Center for Music has been awarded an “American Masterpieces: Music” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The $15,000 grant will support a unique performance and education project showcasing the compositions of jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus.
One of the most important figures in 20th century American music, Mingus left a vast body of work, second only to that of Duke Ellington. After his death in 1979, the NEA provided grants for cataloging his music. Microfilms were given to the New York Public Library, where they are available for study and scholarship. His papers and other items — manuscripts, photographs, correspondence, interviews, recording sessions, broadcasts — were presented to the Library of Congress in 1993.
MacPhail’s ambitious project, called “Meditations and Revelations,” will include four concerts at Antonello Hall beginning in October. The concerts will feature a trio, quintet, septet, and nonet of area musicians including bassist and MacPhail jazz coordinator Adam Linz, drummers JT Bates and Alden Ikeda, saxophonists Chris Thomson and Michael Lewis, and pianist Bryan Nichols.
Preceding each concert, Linz and an ensemble will demonstrate Mingus’ music for students at four Twin Cities high schools: South and Patrick Henry in Minneapolis, Central in St. Paul, and Minnetonka High School. In addition, the Mingus repertoire will be infused into MacPhail’s curriculum throughout the year, with combos playing his music and classes learning the Mingus legacy.
“There is a certain wildness to Mingus’ music that makes it fun for musicians of all ages and skill levels,” Linz told MinnPost. “His deep roots in the church and blues make him accessible, and his rubbing shoulders with the avant-garde makes him desirable. … It’s a music that is not to be taken lightly. It makes you really get your [act] together as a player. But the energy at the end of the day is unmeasurable. When all the wheels are turning, there’s nothing like it.”
“Meditations and Revelations” concert dates: Thursday, Oct. 7 (trio); Thursday, Nov. 18 (quintet); Thursday, Jan. 20 (nonet); Thursday, Feb. 10 (septet). All concerts will be held at 8 p.m. at Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, 501 South Second Street, Minneapolis.