MP3 Mingus Amungus - Live In Cuba
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14 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Bebop, HIP HOP/RAP: Alternative Hip Hop
1997 BAMMIE award winning Mingus Amungus' much anticipated CD, " Mingus Amungus Live in Cuba," was released by Soundmind MDM Productions.
Recorded live in the clubs and on the streets of Havana, Cuba, the CD embodies the cultural richness and diversity of the country it was recorded in. Primarily focusing on their own compositions, Mingus Amungus takes listeners on their journey to Cuba, complete with the airplane arrival, departure and conversations they had on the streets.
"We took 20 people, our instruments and a portable studio to Cuba," explains producer, director and acoustic bassist Miles Perkins. "The production was extremely demanding but Degi Simmons (co-producer) and I were determined to see this project through. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I think it is reflected in the CD".
The logistical and technical hurdles were incredible. The trip itself ripped the band members and production team out of their comfort zone containing the much taken-for-granted: continuous power, running water, toilet seats, refrigerators, toothpaste and even access to drinking water, and gently, but abruptly dropped into the reality of Cuban living.
Although a wonderful experience for everyone, it was not easy. There were times when people sat back exhausted and asked themselves: why? "People do things for different reasons," said co-producer Degi Simmons. "My reason going to Cuba became as clear as ever on a dark street at three in the morning while I wiped sweat from my forehead and pushed my recording studio three blocks over potholes and through the dark alleys of Havana, I love music and will do whatever it takes to share this love with the rest of the world".
Mingus Amungus went to Havana, Cuba in April of 97 playing 5 gigs over 7 days. Guest appearances include congero Miguel "Anga" Diaz, alto saxophonist Yosvanni Terry, trumpeter Jorge Varona, the Cuban bata group Batanga, and Bay Area trumpeter Jason Olaine. The album is literally a musical journey in which listeners make stops in the realms of jazz, hip-hop and afro-cuban rhythms.
Listen to the middle of track 7 where you can hear a young boy saying "so much on my mind, so much on my brain". The boy was not English-speaking, yet he had no problem with the hook. This is the type of involvement that was a common experience in Cuba.
Another special moment in the recording is Caravan (track 9). Listen to the interaction between congeros Adrian Areas and Miguel "Anga" Diaz. You can hear them "trading" phrases back and forth as they shared seven conga drums. This is the amazing thing about music - that two people who had never met, from different cultures, could sit down and communicate so well without missing a beat.
"The real success of the trip were the friendships that we formed and the lessons our new friends taught us," said Miles Perkins. "I was especially impressed by what was held to be important by the Cubans. Family, friends, God, education and the arts are of foremost importance. In assessing these values, I realize that they are truly the essence of life. Material objects do not guarantee lasting happiness - it is family, friends, God, education and the arts that bring meaning to life - the rest just fills in gaps."
In essence, the group is an on-going, evolving tribute to the late, great bassist/composer Charles Mingus. What band leader Miles Perkins has done, with the blessing of Mingus' widow Sue, is to weave other musical, lyrical and dance elements into the fabric of the production and in doing so, created a cultural collage that has taken shape into one of the most unique shows around. It truly reflects the spirit of the man it was named after, as Mingus himself was always pushing the envelope, refusing to fall into a discernible pattern.
"Mingus Amungus Live in Cuba" mirrors that same spirit and will put listeners right in the heart of a nation so many of us know so little about.
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