Ethan Philion's Meditations on Mingus is a 10 person ensemble that honors the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus. The band features many of the Chicago area's top musicians: Russ Johnson and Victor Garcia on trumpet, Norman Palm and Brendan Whalen on trombone, Rajiv Halim, Geof Bradfield, and Max Bessesen on saxophones, Dana Hall on drums, and Alexis Lombre on piano. The band has performed at Chicago's Hyde Park Jazz Festival, the Green Mill, Fulton Street Collective, and more. They are one of the featured artists for the Jazz Institute of Chicago's New Works Fresh Voices Program. Their debut album will be released in August of 2022 on Sunnyside.
"Meditations" connects the social and political themes in Mingus’s music to modern life. Mingus used his music to speak against injustice and to call for compassion towards all people. His message resonates in our current era--an era marked by increasing incidents of hate crimes, aggressive political polarization, and ever-increasing wealth disparity. The compositions performed in “Meditations”--such as “Pithecanthropus Erectus,” “Meditations on a Pair of Wire Cutters,”and “Haitian Fight Song,”--speak to these issues of injustice. The compositions ask listeners to reflect on humanity’s capacity for evil, but as Mingus’s psychiatrist put it, they are also “a call for acceptance, respect, love, understanding, fellowship, freedom--a plea to change the evil in man and to end hatred.”
“Meditations” is directed by bassist Ethan Philion, one of the Chicago area’s most active freelance musicians. Philion won 1st place in the 2019 International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition. Former winners include John Clayton, Ben Williams, Jorge Roeder, and Shawn Conley. He maintains a busy performance schedule, including performances with Greg Ward, Dana Hall, Ernest Dawkins, Alyssa Allgood, and more as well as weekly shows at the Green Mill with Alfonso Ponticelli. Philion is a graduate of DePaul University’s Master’s Program, where he studied with Dana Hall and Dennis Carroll. Philion also is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory where he won 2 Downbeat Student Music Awards in 2014.