22 April 2010

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

Today is the 88th anniversary of Charles Mingus' birth. I was first introduced to the man in high school, when a friend lent me his copy of Mingus Dynasty. I was hooked right away. There was so much to love about his music: the arrangements, his periodic screams of ecstasy, and not least of all his bass playing, which was very present without overpowering the ensemble. Mingus could hammer on the strings with his fingers, propelling the band while simultaneously feeding off of the wonderful drumming of his musical soulmate, Dannie Richmond. Then there was his writing. Mingus was also the greatest Duke Ellington disciple in the history of jazz, and his compositions still excite me fifty years after they were written and ten years after I first heard them. He was an American original.

One final note: According to Wikipedia, the Ellington band performed a version of Mingus' The Clown at a 1969 music festival, with Duke performing Jean Sheppard's narration. If a recording of this exists (and Wiki says it does), then the world needs to hear it.

Below the jump are some Mingus tributes.

Jacob Fred Jazz Oddysey plays Fables of Faubus:

Via the Jazz Video Guy, Billy Taylor describes his first meeting with Mingus:

Mingus Big Band plays Love is a Dangerous Necessity:

Image via New York Times

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