Charles MingusCharles Mingus (April 22, 1922 - January 5, 1979) was a jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, and occasional pianist.
He often worked with a mid-sized ensemble (around 8-10 members), many of whom had strong rhythm and blues experience in addition to jazz. He was stylistically indebted to Duke Ellington, for whom he had played briefly at the start of his career.
Mingus recorded and performed with many notable jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday, Jackie McLean, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy and Charlie Parker.
Mingus was prone to depression (possibly manic-depression). He tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.
Equally notorious was Mingus's onstage temper, which was at times directed at members of his band, and other times aimed at the audience. While on stage at a memorial concert he apparently attempted to crush his pianist's hands, then punched trombonist Jimmy Knepper in the mouth. Jackie McLean once stabbed Mingus after Mingus punched him, fearing that Mingus was about to kill him.
Major works include:
- Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956, Atlantic)
- Blues and Roots (1959, Atlantic)
- Mingus Ah Um (1959, Columbia)
- Mingus Dynasty (1959, Columbia)
- Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (1960, Candid)
- Oh Yeah (1962, Atlantic)
- The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963, Impulse)
- Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963, Impulse)
- Changes One (1974, Atlantic)
- Changes Two (1974, Atlantic)
His autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, presents a vibrantly boastful and possibly apocryphal account of his early career as a pimp.
The music of Charles Mingus is currently being performed and reinterpreted by the Mingus Big Band, which plays every Thursday in New York City, and often tours the rest of the United States and Europe.