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Sue Mingus: "First and Foremost a Composer"

By Published: July 12, 2005
AAJ: I'm going to end this by asking you a difficult question. Normally I don't ask personal questions, but we are talking about Charles Mingus here, so I've been restraining myself from avidly asking, "what was he like? —as if you can sum up even a boring person in a few words, let alone Mingus. But I'm still going to ask you to briefly describe the Charles Mingus you knew.

SM: Well, I would say he was the most honest and most courageous person that I have known. He was a man of great imagination, utterly involved in music, and in telling the truth as he saw it and experienced it—and all that went into his music. He spent most of the hours at home at the piano composing. He was not violent at all. Charles was not a violent person. He was drawn into violence. Charles was a supersensitive artist growing up in surroundings that were eminently hostile and he was a fighter and someone who believed in what he did and he struck out—literally and figuratively. But that was not his personality at home—once he moved in. [Laughing] We fought for eight years before he moved in, but Charles at home was a very peaceful human being and utterly involved with his music. And in telling the truth; like I say, he was the most honest person I've ever met. And that could be difficult! Charles was not here to be polite or tactful. He told his truth as he saw it, on paper and verbally. If you got in the way, that was your problem [laughing].

Visit the official Mingus website.

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More Mingus CD Reviews at AAJ.

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