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SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Of course you know of Charles Mingus, the virtuoso bassist, the accomplished pianist and bandleader, the peerless composer. But did you know that he was an activist who had a lifelong commitment to social justice? In fact, many of his musical compositions were politically themed pieces, songs such as “Freedom” and “Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me.” Mingus died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1979, but his work and spirit live on in the Mingus Big Band. This 14-member outfit, its players hand-picked from a pool of today’s best jazz musicians, is the only touring band dedicated to performing the Mingus canon (much of which has not been played publicly; his more than 100 albums and 300 scores belong to the Library of Congress). In time for election season, the band has released Blues & Politics, a CD that offers up some of Mingus’ political pieces, along with some blues. (Granted, the music is tinted indigo, but these fine sounds are inarguably jazz.) This weekend, you have two opportunities to avail yourself of magnificent Mingus music. Catch the Mingus Big Band at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. $16-$32. (703) 218-6500. And the band performs at 7 :30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29, at Prince George’s Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Road, Cheverly. $20. (301) 405-7794. (Natalie Davis)