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Mingus Speaks

Ian Patterson By

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One of the more interesting sections of interview concerns Mingus' take on the music business: "It's money and women, or it's music—and you can't fool yourself. You don't want music to lose." It was precisely the issue of insufficient money to perform at Wein's Newport Jazz Festival that saw Mingus and others set up the rival Protest Festival in 1960. Unsurprisingly, Wein and Mingus' accounts of the issue don't tally. Wein is however, full of praise for Mingus the musician, describing his music for string quartet as "an incredible work." As for women, Mingus' tales of his pimping days and his whoring in Tijuana come across as ugly braggadocio.

The Mingus interviews—at least the ones with the subject—are many layered; heady streams of consciousness that flow with an uncommon rhythmic vitality. Multiple ideas tussle and converge in a strangely compelling cacophony. The blues runs through much of the narrative and it's always emotionally charged. In short, much like Mingus' music.

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