Since Charles Mingus’ death in 1979, Sue Mingus has created and continues to direct repertory ensembles to carry on the music of her late husband. Her memoir, Tonight at Noon: A Love Story, is a riveting account of her improbable life with the peerless jazz artist who died from ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) when he was only 56 years old. Ms. Mingus is joined by Clayborne Carson, Stanford professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, for a conversation about arts and music in the Civil Rights Era.
Since Charles Mingus's death in 1979, Sue Mingus has created and continues to direct repertory ensembles to carry on the music of her late husband. The most well known is the Mingus Big Band, a New York institution that performs weekly to packed crowds at the Jazz Standard. Other bands include the Mingus Dynasty, the original, seven-piece ensemble founded shortly after Mingus's death; and the Orchestra, a ten-piece ensemble that focuses on some of the lesser-known works in the composer's vast catalogue, and which features bassoon, French horn, bass clarinet and a guitar. In 1989, to great acclaim, she produced Mingus's two-hour masterwork Epitaph for 31 musicians conducted by Gunther Schuller at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
In June 2005 she started her own label, Sue Mingus Music, in conjunction with Sunnyside Records and Universal Music Jazz France, and released I Am Three, an album which features all three current repertory bands. An extension of her pioneering Revenge Records label, initially formed in the 1990s to combat the piracy of Mingus's music, the move also reaches back to the spirit of independently released music, a tradition that in part was started by Charles Mingus. Future Sue Mingus Music releases include the first CD reissue of the 1965 Music Written for Monterey, Not Played, Performed at UCLA, a '60s live date from Cornell University with Eric Dolphy, and more previously unreleased material.
Since 1993, she has produced seven Mingus Big Band recordings for the Dreyfus label, including Tonight at Noon (2002), The Essential Mingus Big Band (2001), Blues and Politics (1999), Que Viva Mingus (1997), Live in Time (1996), Gunslinging Birds (1995), and Nostalgia in Times Square (1993), which were nominated for Grammy awards.
In 2002, Pantheon (Random House) released Sue's memoir of her life with Mingus entitled Tonight At Noon: A Love Story, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. It was released in paperback the following year by Persus Books, and has been translated into several languages.
CLAYBORNE CARSON, Founding Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Research and Education Institute and Professor of History at Stanford
Clayborne Carson, Founding Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute and Professor of History at Stanford, has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movements King inspired. Since 1975, he has taught at Stanford University, where he is now professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Under his direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the Institute, has produced six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a projected fourteen-volume comprehensive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. An honorary degree from Morehouse College granted in 2007 is among his many academic honors and awards.
MARK GONNERMAN is founding director of the Aurora Forum.