mingus amungus
a celebration of the spirit of charles mingus in music and dance

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liner notes for Mingus Amungus: Live in Cuba
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Mingus Amungus' trip to Cuba was one of the most profound tours of my career. The rich culture, musical heritage, and genuine passion of the people was awe-inspiring. Bearing witness to a society so culturally advanced, yet without the material possessions Americans view as basic necessities, gave me a renewed look on my priorities in life.

I was especially impressed by what was held to be important by the Cubans. Family, friends, God, education, music, and dance are of foremost importance to the people we met. In evaluating their values, I realize that these are the same priorities that bring essence to my life. Material objects do not guarantee lasting happiness - it is family, friends, God, education, music, and dance that bring meaning to my life - the rest just fills the gaps.

Because Cuban music is tied to dance, their concept of music is very social. The audience is involved and, therefore, just as much a part of making the music as those on stage. Listen to the middle of track seven 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 is heaven for a performer.

The ability to come together as a people, despite cultural or linguistic barriers is one of the most beautiful things about music. Music is just as much a way of communicating as language and conversation. Listen to the interaction between Adrian Areas and Miguel "Anga" Diaz in the middle of track nine. You can hear them "trading" phrases back and forth as they were sharing 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. In this case, music is the tie that binds. We can all learn from this -- politicians, diplomats, business people, and other international officials must find the tie that binds to communicate effectively and meaningfully with one another. 

As members of humankind we are obligated to take an active role in making the world a better place for everyone, but not at the expense of imposing our own ideology onto others. Cultures, genders, and generations must be encouraged to coexist without making one subservient to the other. To make a difference we must challenge boundaries and limitations making a better world than when we arrived.

- Miles D.V. Perkins, Director

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