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First Time I Saw...

Mingus's Fingus

By Published: November 17, 2006

Still, Mingus' presence was in itself a key component of those original creations. He never played with anything less than full intensity, which perhaps is why he burned out as early as he did. I went back many times to hear Mingus at the Half-Note and at the Five Spot, and over at the Jazz Gallery on the East Side. And at the Village Vanguard—although I wasn't there for a night but he managed to demolish one of the lampshades in a fit of frustration over God-knows-what.

But wherever and whenever I was fortunate enough to catch him, midway through every set I couldn't help thinking about those fingers and the beating they were taking in order to produce the kind of music only Charlie Mingus made.



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