Monk And Mingus In Seattle

Once in a great while, I encounter a photograph so good that it is necessary to dream up a reason to use it. In the case of the one beow, no dreaming was necessary. The lighting, sharpness and definition are so right, the shot looks like 3-D. The tenor saxophonist is Hadley Caliman. The conductor is Michael Brockman of the Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra. The SRJO is preparing for two concerts called Big Band Monk and Mingus, in early March.
Caliman Brockman SRJO.jpg

Photo by Bruce C Moore

From the SRJO news release:

These concerts will feature rare performances of numerous historic works, including Thelonious Monk’s “Bye-ya,” Mysterioso” and “Evidence,” and Charles Mingus’ “Good-bye Porkpie Hat,” “Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife,” “Fables of Faubus,” “Better Get Hit in Your Soul,” “Don’t Be Afraid, The Clown’s Afraid Too,” and “Self Portrait in Three Colors.” The concert will feature original arrangements by Seattle jazz writer and pianist Bob Hammer for classic recordings by the Mingus Orchestra such as Mingus Ah Um and Let My Children Hear Music. Many of the Mingus works show off the lyrical side of his composition skills.
In tribute to the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti, the SRJO will also perform Mingus’ civil rights era work, Haitian Fight Song.

If you live in or near Seattle or find yourself in the neighborhood and haven’t heard the SRJO, this would be a fine opportunity to get to know an impressive collection of musicians. For more information, go here.
There is little of the SRJO on web video, but here is a sample from an outdoor concert. Brockman’s co-leader Clarence Acox introduces the piece. The trumpet soloist is Jay Thomas.

As for Hadley Caliman (remember the picture?), see this recent Rifftides item.

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  1. says

    When the idea of reportorial ensembles first showed up I was pretty skeptical thinking of the dreaded Time Life simulacra of Ellington. But Seattle, oddly, may well be the most notable exception.
    This post brought back a flood of memories when I read it. I thought about old Don Lanphere and his gentle epitome of a voice when he sat in on Jazz shows at KBCS,(sic) at Bellevue Community College.
    Hadley was part of Dolphy’s old childhood brain trust with Jerome Richardson. Dolphy himself played in a symphony orchestra in Tacoma when he was stationed at Fort Lewis, there may be tapes.
    I once lived in Bing Crosby’s childhood stomping grounds with Mildred Bailey in Tacoma.
    I knew friends of Walter Zuber Armstrong and people who grew up with Jimi Hendrix. It is a pretty remarkable city for jazz despite its relative youth and small African American community. I used to run into Quincy Jones’ cousins on the bus.
    And I know of few other American cities that hold the music so near and dear with great radio, impressive support and quality across the board. Jazz Alley transcends fern bar.
    To cut to the chase and return to the point. Yes.. If reportorial renditions have a shot at vitality, Seattle is a better place to look than Lincoln Center. Thank you for this..Clarence Acox… oh my.

  2. says

    Hi Chris,
    I hope you don’t mind my responding with some thoughts that came to me in the past week as the result of an interview I had with a journalist from NYC followed immediately by some new music/cutting edge jazz concerts held here in Seattle.
    The SRJO is trying to do things in a unique way, and through this, we hope to place our own stamp on “the repertory jazz movement” and portray what that means here in the Seattle jazz scene.
    One major factor is that we try to feature the leading jazz soloists that our city has to offer (at least, those who are INTO playing in a large ensemble–many great players are not). Featuring these highly visibility players is not easy to do, because they need to be given plenty of room to stretch out. This means that solos are extended well beyond what is traditional in big bands–and we do this because improvisation MUST be kept as the central focus of any jazz performance. And no player is restricted to play in a particular style–each is set loose to present a new, fresh statement with every solo.
    That said, we spend a lot of our rehearsal time on encouraging/allowing the players to be vibrant and expressive, rather than providing a perfectly polished reproduction of a classic work. Our renditions contain occasional errors, but they are never without vitality.
    Also, we are always trying to broaden what we present to our audiences as the “great repertoire” of jazz. While most of our fans came to us to hear classic works by Ellington and Basie, we have (over the past 15 years) introduced them to many, many other great composers. Our March 2010 Monk & Mingus concerts turned away audience at the door. Go figure! We are trying to present music from the entire 100-year history of jazz, including newly composed things that are perfectly worthy of being considered important repertoire.
    My pal Clarence & I are evangelical about this repertory jazz stuff, and we are trying to be part of what draws more and more people to the music–in ALL its forms.
    -michael brockman