Charles Mingus Sextet: Fables of Faubus

When Jaki played with Charles Mingus’ group in 1964, Mingus gave him a long, unaccompanied solo on “Fables of Faubus,”, and Jaki liked to interpolate James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (The Negro National Anthem) within it. Anyway, what is profound about Jaki's rendition of “Lift Evry Voice” here is that he was performing the song in the mid-sixties in Europe. Protest music. Jaki made a big deal about segregation, and for good reason. Once segregation was abolished, he was so happy that he could sit anywhere he pleased. We talked about this during our lessons. It was clear that Jaki was politically motivated to make statements through his music. My band, as do many other bands, performs that song as a statement of the future. It’s still needed—as was widely publicized recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, the African-American Harvard professor, one of the most distinguished scholars in the United States, was arrested for "breaking into his own home.”

September 14, 2009 · 0 comments

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Charles Mingus: Original Faubus Fables

In 1957, as a defiant white mob at Little Rock's Central High School chanted "Two, four, six, eight; we don't want to integrate," Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus marshaled the state's National Guard to defend segregation. In response, President Eisenhower dispatched the U.S. Army to enforce court-ordered integration. Ike won. In 1959, Charles Mingus recorded "Fables of Faubus" for Columbia, which forbade his verbal mockery of the racist governor. In 1960, Candid removed the muzzle, and Mingus dedicated an uncensored "Original Faubus Fables" to "the first or second or third all-American heel." Mingus won. Harrowing, hilarious and historic, this is protest jazz at its finest.

July 02, 2008 · 0 comments

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Charles Mingus: Original Faubus Fables

Everyone on my "Desert Island Dozens" list (Ellington, Coleman, Jarrett, Haden, Davis, Monk, Hill, Holland, Rollins) is a bandleader and composer who focused on original music and expanding his vocabulary, often pushing the boundaries of the jazz language in the process. Mingus is certainly no exception. In the way that Jarrett built off Coleman's music, I hear Mingus as taking cues from Duke Ellington and spinning out his own brand of multifaceted music, well suited to the sophisticated urban jungle of New York City.

July 02, 2008 · 0 comments

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