Mingus Sings celebrates the vocal music of Charles Mingus and features vocalist Ellen Johnson, pianist and arranger Rick Helzer, drummer Gary Newmark and bassist John Lauffenburger. The concert also features 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, who has been performing the Mingus vocal music for many years is a respected professional vocalist, educator and author of the biography Jazz Child: A Portrait of Sheila Jordan. In the early 90’s Johnson was granted permission by Sue Mingus to write and record original lyrics to several Mingus compositions including a haunting version of “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” featuring alto saxophonist and frequent Mingus collaborator, Charles McPherson. Since that time Johnson has recorded “Nostalgia In Times Square” and “Noddin Ya Head Blues” with guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oles and longtime Cannonball Adderly drummer Roy McCurdy.