The Mingus Appreciation Society

March 22, 2019 @ 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm
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Robin Jessome’s newest project is the Mingus Appreciation Society.

“Working on this Mingus thing I have been listening to (jazz trombonist) Jimmy Knepper who plays on a whole lot of Charles Mingus stuff. He is one of those guys that can bridge that early raw emotion with the bebop intricacies. That’s really interesting to me.”

Jessome wanted to bring his other band project — Blunt Object, an 11-piece ensemble based in Toronto — to Waterloo, but with a smaller stage, the logistics of accommodating of a large ensemble might have proved tricky. He pared it down to a seven-piece collective with members hailing from Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener.

“I could gone with a quartet and played some tunes and played it safe but I like to be a little adventurous so I am always looking for an excuse to play intriguing music that I don’t play very often, so I thought I may as well put this together,” says Jessome.

Kitchener members include Jessome on trombone; Robin Habermehl, saxophones; Andriy Tykhonov, piano; and Mike Rajna on drums, in addition to Toronto’s Jesse Malone and Hamilton’s Tom Altobelli on bass.

“I met (second sax player) Francis Smith for the first time the other day on the recommendation of someone else,” says Jessome.

“The word got around and this brings an interesting dynamic to the group where everyone has some loose connection to each other but there’s also a bit of that nervousness and working without a net. You trust everybody but you don’t exactly know what anyone is going to do at any time. It’s exciting!”

Jessome says the group’s repertoire includes “fun stuff” like “Haitian Fight Song,” “Moanin’,” plus “Jelly Roll,” “Self Portrait in Three Colours,” and “Open Letter to Duke” from 1959′s “Mingus Ah Um.”

“It’s in the spirit of Mingus,” says Jessome. “You mould it, shape it and let it evolve on its own. Personality-wise my two saxophonists will be completely different players and I like the way those two things collide. You never know what’s quite going to happen sometimes. There’s something about being uncomfortable that makes me comfortable!”

-KW Record

At the Waterloo Jazz Festival