Tribute to Charles Mingus

Friday 15 Sep 2023


Andrew Cleyndert – bass and arranger,  Alex Clarke - alto and tenor saxes, Jo Fooks - tenor sax,  Tim Lapthorn - piano,  Winston Clifford – drums.

This heartfelt tribute originated a year ago when Andrew was asked to create it by Roger Gibson, the Artistic Director of the Chichester Film Festival, to follow a screening of “Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog”, in celebration of Mingus’s centenary. It was so well received that Chichester Jazz Club asked Andrew to recreate it for the Club.

It received a rapturous reception again. Andy’s choice and brilliant arrangements of Mingus tunes underpinned an exceptional performance by the band, both individually and as an ensemble. They began with a number I’d not heard of before, Hora Decubitus. A typically dramatic intro. made sure everyone was paying attention, reinforced by Alex’s lively and fluid solo. Jo’s solo was driven in part by Winston’s controlled fireworks before Tim made a very fleet-fingered contribution.

Dizzy Moods featured a superb solo from Andy, subtly supported by Tim and Winston and was followed by My Jelly Roll Soul, a joyous celebration of Mingus’s music with it’s steady, tramping beat laying down a foundation for excellent solos from the front line, especially Tim’s.

Ellington’s Sound of Love, a slow, elegiac number with a beautiful bass solo ended with Winston singing the lyrics, to much acclaim. Reincarnation of a Lovebird followed and featured a considered and accomplished solo from Jo, a very clear and precise one from Alex, both changing tempos as they progressed, and another imaginative solo by Tim. Work Song had a dramatic opening before Alex switched to her tenor for a forthright, “no prisoners” solo, with Winston demonstrating his supportive abilities.

Opus 3 was a very pleasing romp, showing the originality and zest for life so often evident in Mingus’s compositions. We had a double-time solo from Andy, a playful one from Tim and a disciplined free-for-all that sounded like a race to reach the interval!

Jump Monk and Devil Woman started the second half, the latter a slow, emphatic number with Tim and Winston showing great empathy in their playing together. The famous Fables of Faubus followed, a mocking “anti-tribute” to the reviled Governor of Arkansas. Mingus composed many positive tributes to fellow musicians and, after those to Gillespie, Ellington and Monk we now had one - O.P. – to Oscar Pettiford. Tim’s flying fingers and Alex’s attacking solo (with Winston dropping bombs behind her) were the highlights of this number.

I X Love, with its yearning opening refrain led to quietly passionate and emotional solos from Jo and Alex before Better Get it in Your Soul changed the mood with its hand-clapping intro. and great solos, especially from Winston. A final tribute, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, was also the final number from a brilliant band chosen and led by Andy whose musical arrangements were, arguably, the “stars of the show”.

Photos from the event

Click on a photo to enlarge it