The vocal music of Charles Mingus, virtuosic bassist, composer and an important icon in 20th century American music, will be presented for the first time in the Sacramento Area. Featuring, vocalist Ellen Johnson, pianist and arranger Rick Helzer, drummer Gary Newmark, bassist John Lauffenburger and special guest saxophonist and composer Don Braden who has toured the world leading his own ensembles or as a guest and sideman with jazz greats Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, and Roy Haynes among many others.
The concert showcases the lyrics of Charles Mingus, Joni Mitchell, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and vocalist Ellen Johnson’s original lyrics and collaborations with pianist and arranger Rick Helzer. Johnson is well respected in the jazz community as a professional vocalist, educator and author of the biography Jazz Child: A Portrait of Sheila Jordan.
In the early 90’s Sue Mingus granted her permission to write and record original lyrics to several Mingus compositions including a haunting version of “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” (Too Good To Title) that features alto saxophonist and frequent Mingus collaborator, Charles McPherson. Since that time Johnson has recorded “Nostalgia In Times Square” and “Noddin Ya Head Blues” (These Days) with guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oles and longtime Cannonball Adderly drummer Roy McCurdy. She is currently working on an all Mingus project and promoting the Mingus Sings concerts for educational and performing arts centers.