Sights from Mingus Awareness Project

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By Dean Christesen
photos by Lindsey Prather

The 2nd Annual Mingus Awareness Project in Richmond this evening seemed to be, to say the very least, an absolute success on all levels. The huge turnout challenged Gallery5's capacity and made even standing room something to be thankful for. All three groups were simply amazing and were met with enthusiastic roars from the crowd. Good spirits were in the air as everyone graciously gave to the cause of ALS research.

View the complete photo album with full size photos, or continue reading for some select photos.

The M.A.P. Trio (Brian Jones, drums; Cameron Ralston, bass; J.C. Kuhl, tenor saxophone) started things off. The Mingus tunes followed Brian Jones fashion by being deconstructed into their simplest versions and by featuring ultra-interplay between the three.

From Mingus Awareness Project

Fight the Big Bull performed three Matt White originals composed for the event. The first was based on a spiritual from the 1920s and featured trombonist Reggie Pace and Jason Scott on tenor saxophone. The second was inspired by a slave song and largely featured trumpeter Taylor Barnett (who filled in for Bob Miller for the evening), and the third was based on Sacred Harp music and featured John Lilley on tenor saxophone.

The M.A.P. Big Band conducted by Doug Richards began with “Don't Be Afraid, the Clown's Afraid Too." “For Harry Carney" featured baritone saxophonist Jeff Decker, as well as some others. Each solo began as a duo with soft malleted drums, adding the rich bass and piano ostinato to the mix, and finally growing into some full band background. Other solos included pianist Bob Hallahan, trumpeters Rex Richardson and John D'earth, and bassist Randall Pharr. “Jelly Roll" contained several short solos followed by a collective solo. Drummer Brian Jones played the role of Mingus' drummer Dannie Richmond, curiously shifting into double time and back with trombonist Bryan Hooten soloing. Richards' premier arrangement of “Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" was an extraordinary showcase of sublime vocalist John Winn and the band supreme. The night closed with “Boogie Stop Shuffle," a popular number from Mingus' 1959 treasure Mingus Ah Um.

Doug Richards and Brian Jones

Bryan Hooten and DJ Peter Solomon

Matt White, Mingus Awareness Project co-creator Jon Godston, and Brian Jones

Bob Hallahan, John D'earth, and Doug Richards

[where: 200 W. Marshall St., Richmond, VA 23220]

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