On Charles Mingus
September 21, 2013 6:16 PM   Subscribe

posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on September 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Mingus rarely left his pieces alone when he took them on the road with his Jazz Workshop, as he began calling his bands in the mid-1950s. When the Workshop played “Fables of Faubus,” a dart of sarcasm aimed at Arkansas’s segregationist governor Orval Faubus, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the jaunty eight-minute tune swelled into a half-hour suite, punctuated by tart allusions to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “God Bless America” and a bass clarinet solo of blistering intensity by Eric Dolphy. (The performance is one of five concerts included in The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964–65, a seven-disc boxed set on Mosaic Records.) In the studio, Mingus was always splicing, dicing and overdubbing, enriching the texture of his music, increasing its density. He tinkered with titles, giving old pieces new and sometimes cryptic names: the tender portrait of a woman he loved, “Nouroog,” reappeared after their breakup as “I X Love”; “Better Get It in Your Soul,” a foot-stomping gospel tune that’s still played on jukeboxes, became “Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul,” a message to junkies that they’d be better off with a boost from the Lord than one from the needle.
Another good example:

Haitian Fight Song

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:47 PM on September 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I find the opening track Myself, when I'm real, on Mingus Plays Piano to be his most laid-bare and introspective piece. It's my go-to song for soul searching.
posted by furtive at 8:10 PM on September 21, 2013

(Oh man, furtive, thanks for that. I had no idea that album even existed.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:24 PM on September 21, 2013

Mingus manages at once to be untamed and accessible.
posted by wotsac at 9:30 PM on September 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mingus Plays Piano is, in fact, my favorite Mingus album.
posted by mykescipark at 9:50 PM on September 21, 2013

Loved that soup analogy, although it made me a bit anxious that the soup was cooking for a month.
posted by angrycat at 4:48 AM on September 22, 2013

Not sure if this has been posted before, but here's a documentary from 98: Triumph of the Underdog
posted by mapinduzi at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2013

Also great, and I don't think this was posted before either, is the footage when Mingus was evicted, referenced briefly in the article. Love Mingus and this article. Thanks for posting, homunculus.
posted by lownote at 2:16 PM on September 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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