Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus

It is physically impossible to fit the figure of Charles Mingus in school or current stylistic any. His own autobiography began with a lapidary phrase: “I am three”.

Charles Mingus, (Nogales, Ariz., April 22, 1922-Cuernavaca, Mexico, January 5, 1979), was raised in a family environment very severe and racist (his maternal grandparents owned nationalities Chinese and British while the fathers were of Swedish origin and African American, respectively).

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His first contact with music took place in the Church of Holiness Church, a suburb of black Los Angeles where his family had moved. With a great ear, he chose the trombone as a first instrument in his career, but the fortunate -for the jazz – incompetence of his teacher, he did that to deviate the attention to the cello. A friend of yours, knower of the ideas of anti-racist Mingus, warned him that I was rehearsing with an instrument more own white to black. Mingus was delivered from there to the study of the double bass.

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Listening to Duke Ellington, he discovered that there was another music beyond the walls of the church and took lessons from Red Callender, a magnificent bass player of the era of swing.

In 1940, he earned his first serious work with the jazz drummer, Lee Young, brother of Lester and resulted in some performances with Barney Bigard and Louis Armstrong in 1942. Met vibraphonist, Red Norvo, and it gave him wings to go to New York, in a time when the Big Apple was a hotbed of musical ideas. There he met the musical circles of bebop, Charlie Parker, when I heard it for the first time, encouraged him to persevere in your music.

In 1952, he founded his own record label “Debut”, and his first recording was the exceptional concert, 1953 in Toronto at Massey Hall, regarded as the swan song of the bebop. From there, he began his musical journey as a leader and recorded in 1956 for the label Atlantic, his first masterpiece: “Pithecanthropus Erectus” by giving start to a musical career, impressive, marked with discs, recordings and live concerts absolutely masterful.

Between the late fifties and early sixties, Mingus recorded the body of his discography, but more important, and among them, there is no doubt, a number of masterpieces scattered between different record companies:

“The Clown” (Atlantic, 1957); “New Tijuana Moods” (RCA, 1957); “Mingus Ah Um (Columbia, 1959); “Blues & Roots” (Rhino, 1959); “Mingus at Antibes” (Atlantic, 1960); “Charles Mingus Present Charlie Mingus” (Candid, 1960) and considered by many critics, his absolute masterpiece “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse, 1963), and among those discs, the small gems that have become with the passing of the time in great jazz standards as “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” a beautiful tribute to Lester Young, “or” Better Git It In Your Soul”.

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Charles Mingus was, without doubt, a genius of music and modern jazz. His contribution to the development of jazz was extraordinary and is considered one of the greatest composers of the TWENTIETH century.

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The main landmark record of the celebration of its centenary (and from now we can qualify as one of the albums most important among those published this year) is The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s , a disc triple-recorded in a time of Mingus poorly documented, and that contributes greatly to their discography.

There is No hint of hyperbole unjustified in these words: where many other releases of unreleased recordings are, while often excellent, little more than anecdotal in general, we find here an album of pure, hard, recorded professionally and with the intention of being published originally.

Orange Was the Color of Her Dress (Then Silk Blues)

In 1972, Charles Mingus, lived a genuine rebirth, after a period of personal darkness and semi-professional removal in the second half of the decade of the 60s.

Back in 1970, he was more gradually than explosive, but in 1971 he came full of milestones, making it again in the front line and giving it a prestige even higher than in previous decades thanks to the award of a Guggenheim fellowship in composition, and the publication of his book of memories Beneath The Underdog (which will be finally re-released soon, in our country by publishing Books in the Kultrum, after being out of print for almost twenty years), in addition to the departure of their monumental album Let my Children Hear Music and your music to surpass the boundaries of the genre, with the creation of The Mingus Dances of the hand of the important choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey.

However, despite the renewed interest in Mingus and his music, at this time, the jazz had changed; it was not the popular music of decades past and the mutations of power had taken the first few rows, relegating many of the great musicians to audiences small and specialized. This explains the radical decision to Columbia to cancel its entire catalog of jazz in 1973 (except for Miles Davis), leaving Mingus, no seal, and the recordings that are The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s archived until today, 50 years later.

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The historical importance of this material is most clear, but its importance in music is not less: despite being a live recording, it has nothing to do with the interpretation of routine or revival other times Mingus, but with a natural extension of the open roads by the bassist, who always looked inward —toward the universe is personal and distinctive— but it also always forward.

With a repertoire which included renovated versions of classic themes such as Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress , Then Silk Blues or Fables Of Faubus , and new compositions as The Man Who Never Sleeps or Mind-Readers’ Convention In Milano (topic published officially for the first time in this album), the group of Mingus in the summer of 1972 was a perfect representation of their Jazz Workshops , in which each subject is turned into a journey of creative leaning in the direction of the bass player and the freedom and interaction of its musicians.

In the extraordinary sextet recorded in The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s find collaborators of the leader, as the alto sax, Charles McPherson; musicians who had accompanied him since his return in 1970, as the tenor sax Bobby Jones; or most recent additions, such as the pianist John Foster, drummer Roy Brooks or a very young Jon Faddis on trumpet, who Mingus was giving some of his early career opportunities.

The almost two and a half hours of music that contains The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s serve to remember, with ears fresh, extremely current that follows the music of Mingus, and how exciting it still is, also fit perfectly as one of the great works of the last stage of the music of Mingus. If it had been published at the time, today, it would be a classic of the era.

Fables of Faubus (Live)