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Purdue Jazz Festival gets under way with Mingus Big Band

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Jazz Festival will open with a tribute to Charles Mingus, an important figure in 20th century American music, by the 14-member Mingus Big Band at 8 p.m. Jan. 16 in Purdue Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse.

The performance is presented by Purdue Convocations as part of the Purdue Jazz Festival, Convocations’ annual collaboration with Purdue University Bands. The festival, which runs Jan. 15-18, brings more than 2,000 middle and high school students to campus for clinics and concerts with noted jazz artists and clinicians.

The Mingus Big Band kicks off the 2009 Purdue Jazz Festival on January 16

The Mingus Big Band kicks off the 2009 Purdue Jazz Festival on January 16

The performance, titled “50th Anniversary Performance: Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots,” commemorates the release of two well-known Mingus albums. The recordings reveal Mingus as a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer who infused the conventional big band sound of the 1950s and ’60s with avant-garde techniques, idiosyncratic rhythms and a sense of humor, said Abby Eddy, director of marketing for Purdue Convocations.

Keeping his music alive in a weekly set at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, the Mingus Big Band features a roster of New York musicians who impart a sense of joy in Mingus’s already spirited music, Eddy said. The group last performed at Purdue in 1999 to a sold-out crowd.

The concert will follow a pre-show discussion by Don Seybold, a jazz expert and former associate director of Convocations, who will speak about Mingus’s legacy, his albums and the band’s approach to propelling his music into the future. The discussion will get under way at 7 p.m. in Purdue Memorial Union, Room 118.

An autograph session with the artists will immediately follow the performance in the Stewart Center West Lobby.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $22 for children 18 years and younger, Purdue students and Ivy Tech Lafayette students. Tickets are available at the Elliott Hall and Stewart Center box offices at (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW. Tickets also are available through Ticketmaster outlets. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more can be ordered at (765) 496-1977.

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