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Charles Mingus: Mingus in Wonderland – 1959

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In 1959, there were two Charles Minguses: the Mingus you knew and the Mingus you didn't. In May 1959, Mingus recorded his very best album ever: the incomparable Mingus Ah Um. And I mean incomparable in the literal sense. There is, literally, no other record quite like it. It's a big band, but not a Big Band. It's progressive but approachable. It's a tribute to the past that is also forward-looking. It is simply a tour de force. ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Better Git It In Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus

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Better Git It In Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography Of Charles Mingus Krin Gabbard 296 Pages ISBN: 978-0-520 University California Press 2016 Compared to other historically important jazz figures, few have been the books dedicated to Charles Mingus, which is strange given his enduring influence on modern jazz practitioners. Perhaps Mingus was simply too complex a figure, both as a character and as a prolific composer of wildly inventive music to invite easy ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

Mingus Speaks

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Mingus on the Avant-Garde and Tradition Here's Charles Mingus talking about two of his favorite subjects, the avant-garde pretenders and the need for jazz players to understand the traditions of their music. The excerpt is from my book Mingus Speaks (2013, University of California Press). --John F Goodman Mingus: Everybody's got ego and everybody who lives in a human body thinks they're better than another guy. Even if a guy's considered to be a nigger ...

SHRINKTUNES

The Mingus Excerpt

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“The Mingus Excerpt" shows a sweet side of Charles Mingus that few people saw or could imagine. After all, his nickname was “The Angry Man of Jazz," and most biographical material supports that designation in one way or other. But for all his bluster and bombast, there was also generosity and kindness. This story describes his unlikely friendship with Steve Reichman, a young Jewish kid from the suburbs who eventually committed suicide in Morocco, at the age of ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Mingus Speaks

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Mingus Speaks John F. Goodman 329 pages ISBN: 978-0-520-27523-2 University of California Press 2013 Many are the books written about bassist/composer and bandleader Charles Mingus--one of the most influential jazz figures of the post-war years. His own autobiographical work, Beneath the Underdog (Knopf, 1971) was a sprawling, boiling stew of memoir and fiction that remains the most revealing portrait of an artist as anguished as he was brilliant. Bouts of depression, a period ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Marc Myers: Why Jazz Happened

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Why Jazz HappenedMarc Myers266 pagesISBN 9780520268784University of California Press2012Jazz's timeline and the iconic figures of each of its successive stylistic movements are well known to aficionados. Less well understood, however, are the underlying conditions that created these changes. Advances in recording technologies, social trends, radio, the incursion of pop and rock, and socio-political factors all played major roles in shaping the evolution of jazz, says music journalist and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition

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This special edition marks the 50th anniversary of bassist Charles Mingus' 1959 Columbia masterpiece, one of the great records in a year that included Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia), John Coltrane's Giant Steps (Atlantic) and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic). The Legacy edition is a two-CD set that also includes Mingus' second Columbia record of 1959, Mingus Dynasty, as well as alternate takes. It restores portions that were edited out on the original LPs in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um

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Drop the needle on Charles Mingus' bluesy call to prayer on “Better Git It In Your Soul" and Legacy's decision to include Ah Um in its vinyl series comes into sharp focus. There's simply no better way to hear the 1959 Columbia masterpiece than on 12" vinyl and, while it may be hard to detect the business logic behind the series, the meticulous remastering by Allan Tucker makes clear the aesthetic motive. During the last decade, the ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Mingus Big Band and Cyrus Chestnut Trio at The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia

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Cyrus Chestnut Trio and Mingus Big BandThe Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Verizon Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February 22, 2008 There is a saying to the effect that “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." That is what the Kimmel Center did with two problems that arose on this particular concert evening. First, T.S. Monk cancelled his engagement due to illness. But Cyrus Chestnut was recruited as a substitute and ...


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