The word Visionary is one of those sadly over-abused characterizations that has lately come to apply to anyone who thinks past midnight. But in the case of Charles Mingus, the word Visionary is the intended description of someone who was at the forefront. In this case the Avant-Garde in Jazz. Mingus had a solid foundation in Music, which extended across numerous genres and was, as is the case with all those considered True Visionaries, labeled crazy, emotionally challenged, amateurish and just plain odd.
He was busy at the same time other forms of music were being reevaluated; Classical was going through its deconstruction – electronic music was in its infancy – rock n’ roll was evolving into the Next Logical Step in the 1960s, and generally it came during a period of time when most institutions were being questioned – Writing, Art, Cinema – these were all forms that were going through dramatic upheavals or were at the brink of doing something new.
And so along comes Charles Mingus with a rock-solid foundation in Music theory and composition, who just as easily could have applied his challenging principles to Classical Music as anywhere else, took the already collaborative nature of Jazz and gave it a long, hard look.
The end result was innovation and forward thinking essential to the growth and continuation of any art form, and became it’s lightning rod – or, to be fair to Coltrane, Rollins and a host of others, one of the lightning rods which became essential elements in the evolution of a form.
This appearance at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival is probably not new to most collectors and Jazz aficionados;it’s been around for a while and it features an excellent lineup of associates: Richard Williams, trumpet – Leo Wright on also sax and flute – Booker Ervin on tenor sax – Sir Roland Hanna on piano and Dannie Richmond on Drums.
If you’re new, please check it out. If you already know, I don’t need to tell you.