THE MINGUS DYNASTY, a nimble and expert ensemble, was the first band Sue Mingus organized after her husband Charles Mingus’ death in 1979. Although big bands like the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey bands had continued to perform after their leader passed on, a similar legacy never existed for smaller ensembles. Because Mingus always said he was first and foremost a composer, and because he left behind over 300 compositions that deserved to be played, a band carrying on his music became a natural, if unanticipated, mission. For the sake of authenticity, the first Dynasty bands were expected to include only musicians who had actually performed with Mingus—except for the bass player of course. Today, nearly 40 years later, the rich legacy of Mingus music ignites the bandstand while new generations of musicians—many of them not even alive during the composer’s lifetime—add their individual voices and continue to interpret and build on his compositions. The band comprises Abraham Burton, tenor saxophone; Alex Sipiagin, trumpet; Ku-umba Frank Lacy, trombone; Helen Sung, piano; Boris Kozlov, bass and Donald Edwards, drums.
Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, directed by Doug Tidaback, comprises high school musicians from southern Arizona who study at this award-winning community music school. This big band (one of six at the TJI), loved for their swinging, diverse and energetic big band sounds, was the #1 High School Big Band winner two years in a row (2013 and 2014) and in 2017 of the prestigious national Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Competition presided over by Wynton Marsalis. They were in the top three in 2015 and 2016. Other awards include first place in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival earning them a spot to perform at the 2012 festival and they were named the Best Community Jazz Band in the 35th Annual Student Music Awards in DownBeat magazine in 2012 and 2013. Their alumni attend some of the most prestigious schools in the nation (many on scholarship) including Julliard, the Manhattan School of Music, The New England Conservatory, Princeton, USC and Swarthmore and have gone on to major careers in jazz music.