November 17, 2020
Unable to fully stage their celebration of the classic 6os album, Clod Ensemble are inviting audiences to a listening party for London jazz festival
Move with Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady hit the dance floor
They had such great plans: a live band, 200 people young and old all dancing freely together, performers and audience intermingling in a rapturous, participative party of a show. Needless to say, that picture is far from Covid-safe. The event would have been Clod Ensemble’s live staging of Charles Mingus’s classic jazz album The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, with the Nu Civilisation Orchestra and a company of dancers leading the groove. That show is on ice, but for Clod’s artistic director Suzy Willson, the music itself and the momentum of the project was just too good to let go, so she has devised a different way of taking it to the people.
The project has been reborn as a “listening party” as part of the London jazz festival. It’s a chance to get engrossed in Mingus’s 1963 recording, a masterpiece of avant-garde ambition, interspersed with discussion from Willson and co-artistic director Paul Clark, along with Peter Edwards and Gary Crosby from the Nu Civilisation Orchestra. In tandem with the music is a film featuring the dancers improvising in response to the score, all shot separately in the studio but collaged together in an occasionally psychedelic way. It’s far from a standard performance film or the at-home videos we’re getting used to. “I wanted to create a world that’s beyond the domestic world,” says Willson. “To somehow lift us into a slightly alternative reality.”
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