A Jazz Portrait in Seven Movements inspired by the music of Charles Mingus (1922-1979), is an idea that started in 2013 after I had composed a few tunes based on the blues structure in the tradition of Ellington and Mingus for my Akashmani Jazz Ensemble. While the various movements took shape into a coherent whole, I had the idea of a potential theatrical piece showing the great composer’s death while playing on the bandstand, remembering what Mingus himself had written in his notes on “Mingus at Monterey”:
"A weird thing happened during “A Train”. The fear of my death surged through me. And I overcame it. I was looking at the sky , and I said, ”Well, here I come, baby. Lord, I guess this is it.” So I’m just gonna play better cause I want to sound good when I die."
-Charles Mingus "Mingus in Monterey"
Get your physical CD
Memories of Duke
Urban Jungle I
Blues in Rags
Night City Blues
While You Are Asleep
Urban Jungle II
Requiem/Inner Fires Reprise
Brown Bear’s Love Waltz
For my Father
THE MINGUS SUITE
Musicians: Akashmani Ensemble (1-11)
Francesco Lento, trumpet
Mario Corvini, trombone
Daniele Tittarelli, alto sax
Marco Guidolotti, baritone sax,
clarinet, bass clarinet
Riccardo Fassi, piano
Dario Rosciglione, double bass (except 4)
Raffaele Toninelli, bowed double bass (1, 4)
Andrea Nunzi, drums
Roberto Ottaviano, soprano sax (12)
Adriano Clemente, piano (12)
Release date: 26 May 2016
Production by: Dodicilune
Total time: 58'24
All compositions and arrangements by: Adriano Clemente
The first movement, Inner Fires, depicts Mingus playing his last concert with his band, and reflects one of the characteristics of Mingus’s compositions in the tempo changes and alternation of fierce and peaceful moods. After an intro by the horns, an improvised bass introduction by Dario Rosciglione opens the way to the up-tempo first section. The solos are mainly by Marco Guidolotti on baritone and Daniele Tittarelli on alto.
In the second movement, Memories of Duke, Mingus remembers his childhood, when he listened for the first time to Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”, quoted brifefly at the end of the tune. The coda on the piano has been improvised by Riccardo Fassi.
Urban Jungle, the first interlude, is the sound of the city surrounding the club where Mingus is playing, with its chaos and violence. It consists mainly of five melodic lines with which the performers have the freedom to interact. Circus, the third movement, brings Mingus back to his childhood days.
The central section has been totally improvised in studio, with Mario Corvini on trombone as the main soloist. Back on stage, the band plays a minor blues Blues in Rags, fourth movement, where all musicians have the chance to take a solo, after which they play second interlude, Night City Blues, based on a blues structure of ten beats.
The fifth movement portrays Mingus asleep, in a ballad inspired by the famous “The Man who Never Sleeps”, with solos by Marco Guidolotti on clarinet, Dario Rosciglione on bass, and Francesco Lento on trumpet.
After a reprise of Urban Jungle as the third interlude, the band plays Last Blues, which is a variation on “Theme for Lester Young”, the tune that Mingus composed on stage after knowing of the great saxophone player’s death, and here a representation of Mingus’s own death. The song is opened by an improvised solo by Daniele Tittarelli followed by a composed introduction for alto. Solos are by Daniele again and Riccardo Fassi.
The seventh and last movement, Requiem, is opened by the mourning sound of a bass clarinet improvisation and continues in the style of the funeral marching bands, with solos by Mario Corvini on trombone and Francesco Lento on trumpet. At the end of the Requiem, Mingus’s bass again resounds in the improvised section by Dario Rosciglione, leading to a reprise of the theme of the first movement, Inner Fires: his spirit survives in his music as the inner fires of primordial sound, the creative force of the universe.
Besides the suite we have two compositions. The first is Brown Bear’s Love Waltz, whose original title was “Waltz for Sun Ra”, in which Marco Guidolotti his featured on baritone sax. The last piece, For my Father, was composed a few days after my father’s death and recorded with Roberto Ottaviano, whom I thank for his heartfelt interpretation and solo. The sinuous lines of his soprano express the ascent of the human soul like a bird set free from its cage.
This cd contains music belonging to the Akashmani Projects, a series of my projects that display the universal message of melody, harmony, and rhythm in various forms of expression and through different musical languages.
FOR MY FATHER
Will you lead me my Lord
Back to your green pastures
Will you make my path clear
To the land of no fear
Will you teach me to love
All the beasts weak and strong
And to be always kind
In the land of no mind
To my true home I’ll go
And I’ll see the sun that never sets
Shining through my hands
In the land where all sorrow ends.
- In the memory of my father Nicola Clemente
(1918-2015) who first taught me to love music.