On 6 April 2009, Eagle Rock Entertainment release the “Epitaph” DVD [EREDV630]. This performance is the only time that this major opus in the Charles Mingus canon has been filmed and is now available here on DVD for the first time. Originally shown on TV on Channel 4 in the UK, “Epitaph” features many well known jazz musicians in the orchestra including band members known from their work with Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and more. 2009 is the 30th Anniversary of the death of Charles Mingus.
The “Epitaph” piece was discovered after Mingus’ death in 1979 and painstakingly restored and copied. It is the largest and longest piece for jazz orchestra ever written. On June 3rd, 1989, the Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center was the venue for the world premiere performance of Charles Mingus’ masterpiece “Epitaph”. Conductor Gunther Schuller directed 30 musicians in what the New York Times described as, “One of the most memorable jazz events of the decade”.
1. Main Score: Part One 2. Percussion Discussion 3. Main Score: Part Two 4. Started Melody 5. The Soul 6. Untitled Ballad 7. Moods In Mambo 8. Self Portrait: The Chill Of Death 9. O.P. (Oscar Pettiford) 10. Please Don’t Come Back From The Moon 11. Monk, Bunk And Vice Versa 12. Peggy’s Blue Skylight 13. Wolverine Blues 14. The Children’s Hour Of Dream 15. Freedom 16. Untitled Interlude 17. Better Get Hit In Your Soul 18. Noon Night 19. Main Score Reprise
Mingus’ often fearsome temperament earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz” but he is also considered one of the most important Jazz composers and performers. His tunes—though melodic and distinctive—are not often re-recorded, in part because of their unconventional nature. “Epitaph” is the perfect work to showcase this maestro’s uncompromising creative power.