Charles Mingus

~ Person


"Good jazz is when the leader jumps on the piano, waves his arms, and yells. Fine jazz is when a tenorman lifts his foot in the air. Great jazz is when he heaves a piercing note for 32 bars and collapses on his hands and knees. A pure genius of jazz is manifested when he and the rest of the orchestra runaround the room while the rhythm section grimaces and dances around their instruments." (Charles Mingus)

Arguably one of the greatest composer of the last century, definitely the greatest contrabassist, an impressive pianist, a controversial writer, a true jazz icon, the greatest hard-bop jazz leader, neither superlatives nor somewhat silly "rankings" can do justice to Charles Mingus genius and music.
From the first "small" features in 1945, to the late Me, Myself an Eye from 1978, just moments before his death, Charles Mingus left us a hundred of equally earth shaking records, among which Tijuana Moods, Ah Um, The Clown, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Mingus Moves, Let my Children Hear Music...

Most of his early career can be found on West Coast and on the 10 cd box set The Complete Debut Recordings, not to mention the Bethlehem and Savoy sessions.
Already a major voice by the 50's, he contributed his part in two of the finest jazz records ever, namely Jazz at Massey Hall and Money Jungle.

Closing the 50's with a series of major records for Atlantic (all to be found in the Passions of a Man box set), Mingus walked into the 60's with Candid, and a new line-up including Eric Dolphy (another true jazz genius).
The Candid sessions on their own deserve a book: adventurous, demanding, heartfelt, both breaking new grounds and deeply rooted, all material is equally exceptional.
Reaching new heights - if possible - with three smashing Impulse! releases, the band planned a European tour for 1964.

That tour was havoc, pure blossoming beauty, craziness and genius at work, unfortunately mostly documented on poor quality bootlegs.

Sadly, it was also death, as Eric Dolphy passed in mysterious circumstances in Germany, leaving Mingus devastated, going silent for five years.

1970 saw another Mingus come back, in his 50's, taking charge again almost exactly where it stopped in 64: Paris - and the famous TNP session.
A colossal Mingus, dominating both his instrument and formations, appeased on the surface, still burning of that old flame, for a last decade of genius work, and a handful of studio records - most musicians would make a career out of just one of these, namely Three or Four Shades of Blues, Changes, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion...

Epitaph, a work of a lifetime that he knew he could never record, was performed in the late 80's, and can be found as a two cd box.

"If someone has been escaping reality, I don't expect him to dig my music." --- Charles Mingus

(Cat owners will also be highly interested by the famous Mingus cat toilet training program, the Cat-alog.)

Archived discography page:

Annotation last modified on 2013-03-25 03:57 UTC.


Charles Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979) was an American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader. His compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop, drawing heavily from black gospel music and blues, while sometimes containing elements of Third Stream, free jazz, and classical music. He once cited Duke Ellington and church as his main influences.

Mingus espoused collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacted with the group as a whole. In creating his bands, he looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. Many musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. He recruited talented and sometimes little-known artists, whom he utilized to assemble unconventional instrumental configurations. As a performer, Mingus was a pioneer in double bass technique, widely recognized as one of the instrument's most proficient players.

Nearly as well known as his ambitious music was Mingus's often fearsome temperament, which earned him the nickname "The Angry Man of Jazz". His refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many onstage eruptions, exhortations to musicians, and dismissals. Because of his brilliant writing for midsize ensembles, and his catering to and emphasizing the strengths of the musicians in his groups, Mingus is often considered the heir of Duke Ellington, for whom he expressed great admiration. Indeed, Dizzy Gillespie had once claimed Mingus reminded him "of a young Duke", citing their shared "organizational genius".

Mingus' compositions continue to be played by contemporary musicians ranging from the repertory bands Mingus Big Band, Mingus Dynasty, and Mingus Orchestra, to the high school students who play the charts and compete in the Charles Mingus High School Competition.

Gunther Schuller has suggested that Mingus should be ranked among the most important American composers, jazz or otherwise. In 1988, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts made possible the cataloging of Mingus compositions, which were then donated to the Music Division of the New York Public Library for public use. In 1993, The Library of Congress acquired Mingus's collected papers—including scores, sound recordings, correspondence and photos—in what they described as "the most important acquisition of a manuscript collection relating to jazz in the Library's history".

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1953 Strings and Keys Charles Mingus & Spaulding Givens 1
1955 Jazzical Moods Charles Mingus & John LaPorta 10
1956 Pithecanthropus Erectus Charles Mingus 5 12
1956 Jazz Composers Workshop Charles Mingus 4
1957 The Clown Charles Mingus 4.5 10
1957 A Modern Jazz Symposium of Music and Poetry With Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 4
1957 East Coasting Charles Mingus 4
1957 Mingus Three Charles Mingus 5
1959 Mingus Ah Um Charles Mingus 5 15
1960 Blues & Roots Charles Mingus 5 7
1960 Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 4
1960 Mingus Charles Mingus 5
1960 Mingus Dynasty Charles Mingus 7
1961 Pre-Bird Charles Mingus 5 4
1962 Money Jungle Duke EllingtonCharles MingusMax Roach 5 6
1962 Oh Yeah Charles Mingus 7
1962 Tijuana Moods Charles Mingus 10
1963 Reincarnation of a Love Bird Charles Mingus 4
1963 The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Charles Mingus 4 9
1964 Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Charles Mingus 5 8
1964 Mingus Plays Piano Charles Mingus 5
1965 Tonight at Noon Charles Mingus 2
1971 Blue Bird Charles Mingus 1
1972 Let My Children Hear Music Charles Mingus 4
1974 Mingus Moves Charles Mingus 2
1975 Changes One Charles Mingus 2
1975 Changes Two Charles Mingus 2
1977 Three or Four Shades of Blues Charles Mingus 4
1978 Cumbia & Jazz Fusion Charles Mingus 3
1979 Me, Myself an Eye Charles Mingus 2
1980 Something Like a Bird Charles Mingus 1
1989 The Complete Candid Recordings of Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
1990 The Complete Debut Recordings Charles Mingus 1
1990 With Orchestra Charles Mingus 1
1992 Debut Rarities, Volume 1: The Charles Mingus Octet / The Jimmy Knepper Quintet Charles Mingus 1
1992 Debut Rarities, Volume 2 Charles Mingus 1
1993 Debut Rarities, Volume 3 Charles Mingus 1
1994 Debut Rarities, Volume 4 Charles Mingus 1
1997 Passions of a Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1956–1961) Charles Mingus 5 1
1998 Alternate Takes Charles Mingus 1
1998 The Complete 1959 Columbia Recordings Charles Mingus 1
2000 West Coast 1945-49 Charles Mingus 5 1
2010 Charles Mingus and the Newport Rebels Charles Mingus 1
2011 The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady / Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Charles Mingus 1
2012 The Complete Columbia & RCA Albums Collection Charles Mingus 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1970 The Best of Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
1973 The Art of Charles Mingus: The Atlantic Years Charles Mingus 1
1979 Nostalgia in Times Square: The Immortal 1959 Sessions Charles Mingus 2
1979 Passions of a Man Charles Mingus 1
1985 Charles Mingus in Paris: The Complete America Session Charles Mingus 3
1986 The Young Rebel Charles Mingus 1
1989 Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
1989 Mysterious Blues Charles Mingus 2
1993 Thirteen Pictures: The Charles Mingus Anthology Charles Mingus 1
1993 The Collection Charles Mingus 1
1994 His Final Work Charles Mingus 6
1995 In a Soulful Mood Charles Mingus 1
1996 This Is Jazz 6 Charles Mingus 3
1997 Priceless Jazz Collection Charles Mingus 1
1997 Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
1997 Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
1998 Battle of the Bands Gil Evans vs. Charles Mingus 1
1999 Pithecanthropus Erectus: 1955-1957 Charles Mingus 1
1999 Fables of Faubus Charles Mingus 1
2000 Ken Burns Jazz Charles Mingus 1
2000 Plays It Cool Charles Mingus 1
2001 The Very Best of Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
2001 Shuffle Bass Boogie Charles Mingus 1
2002 Charles Mingus's Finest Hour Charles Mingus 1
2003 1959 Charles Mingus 1
2004 The Young Rebel Charles Mingus 1
2004 Modern Jazz Archive: Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1 1
2006 The Impulse Story Charles Mingus 1
2007 Columbia Jazz Profiles: Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
2007 The Millennium Collection Charles Mingus 1
2007 Mysterious Blues Charles Mingus 1
2009 Kind of Mingus Charles Mingus 1
2009 Pithecanthropus Erectus + The Clown (Shady 2-in-1 release) Charles Mingus 1
2010 Eight Classic Albums Charles Mingus 1
2011 Original Album Series (Charles Mingus) Charles Mingus 1
2012 Mitos do jazz, Volume 19: Charles Mingus Charles Mingus 1
Epitaph Charles Mingus 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1955 Mingus at the Bohemia Charles Mingus 4 3
1955 The Charles Mingus Quintet + Max Roach Charles Mingus 2
1959 Jazz Portraits: Mingus in Wonderland Charles Mingus 3
1963 Town Hall Concert Charles Mingus 2
1964 Town Hall Concert Charles Mingus 3
1966 Right Now: Live at the Jazz Workshop Charles Mingus 2
1972 1964-04-19: The Great Concert of Charles Mingus: Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France Charles Mingus 4
1973 Charles Mingus and Friends Charles Mingus 2
1974 Mingus at Carnegie Hall Charles Mingus 3
1976 Mingus at Antibes Charles Mingus 4 7
1979 Mingus in Europe, Volume 1 Charles Mingus 2
1983 Mingus in Europe, Volume 2 Charles Mingus Quintet featuring Eric Dolphy 2
1986 Mingus at Monterey Charles Mingus 2
1987 1964-04-17: Revenge!, Salle Wagram, Paris, France Charles Mingus 8
1988 Paris TNP Charles Mingus 1
1989 Live in Chateauvallon, 1972 Charles Mingus 1
1990 Epitaph Charles Mingus 2
1993 Parkeriana Charles Mingus 1

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