As part of his project “Four for Mingus,” AJ Johnson presents the second in a series of four concerts. These performances are dedicated to visionary musician Charles Mingus, centering on political and protest music, spirituality and self-reflection, Charles Mingus’ own expansion of the blues, and the inspiration he took from Duke Ellington. This series heavily features Dr. Johnson’s research and scholarly approach to this music, creating a unique educational experience for the audience.
Opening his imaginative autobiography Beneath the Underdog, Charles Mingus alluded to his multifaceted nature, “in other words, I am three.” Mingus was from the same Southern California community that gave rise to the Pentecostal Church, and he was heavily influenced by the church’s music and traditions. This concert will feature his music reflecting energetic black Christian worship practices and music reflecting Mingus’ own self-reflection. The program will also feature his sound portrait of early human development, “Pithecanthropus Erectus,” and his exquisite “Self-Portrait in Three Colors,” alternatively titled “God’s Portrait.”
About The Artist:
Aaron J. Johnson is Assistant Professor and Interim Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh where he studies and teaches jazz, funk, film music, and MIR (music information retrieval). He studies social aspects of how music is produced, organized, and presented, the efforts of musicians to counter powerful institutional forces, and how musicians use media of all kinds. A professional jazz musician born and raised in Washington, D.C. during the apex of the Chocolate City era, he has electrical engineering degrees from Carnegie Mellon (BSEE) and Georgia Tech (MS) and a PhD in Music from Columbia University. He plays trombone, tuba, bass clarinet, and conch shells. The many musicians with whom he has performed or recorded include Jimmy Heath, Wallace Roney, Steve Turre, Victor Gould, Charles Tolliver, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Jay-Z, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Oliver Lake, Muhal Richard Abrams, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and the Mingus Big Band. His forthcoming book from the Illinois University Press is titled Jazz Radio America.
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