Charles Mingus this week. One of the most important and innovative figures in 20th Century American Music, Mingus blazed an amazing trail, elevating Jazz into an art form, taking it from background music to the forefront; from finger-popping to brain calisthenics.
Uncompromising, Mingus’ reputation was legendary, as was his temper. But when you’re doing something new, saying something different – getting the point across to those unwilling can be tough. His outbursts at audiences were also noteworthy. But this is the downside of doing something new where not everyone is on the same page – particularly when music is listened at, and not listened to.
Spending time, listening to the music of Charles Mingus, you realize how complex and thought-out this seemingly simple journey of music is and how it begged and demanded the attention of the musician and audience alike to hear what was going on.
I’ve often said that Jazz is America’s Classical Music; Duke Ellington as Bach and Charles Mingus as Schoenberg. Looking at it like that, you see the parallels and innovations going on and the real steps Jazz has taken since its evolution.
But that’s me and that’s my opinion. Don’t take it to the bank; blame it on my ears and my brain. I just love this stuff.
Bottom line – the Music of Charles Mingus is, at first listen challenging, but with repeat listenings the puzzle becomes clear and the pieces become apparent. And it’s a lot of fun to dive into.
This concert, featuring the Charles Mingus Septet is from the Nice Jazz Festival, recorded on July 20, 1972 by the venerable Radio France, whose love of live Jazz is second only to their love of live Classical performances. The group features Charles McPherson on alto sax, Bobby Jones on tenor sax and clarinet, Jon Faddis on trumpet, John Foster on piano and Ray Brooks and drums and percussion (including saw).
Enjoy – maybe next week we’ll dive back into dance bands, just to break things up.