Personalities | Charles Mingus | Fifties | Jazz & Blues

(Bass, piano, composer, 1922–79)

Charles Mingus had a tempestuous, multi-faceted personality, which is reflected in the almost schizophrenic extremes of his music and the sheer magnitude of his creative aspirations. Early work with Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo brought him in 1951 from California to New York, where he worked with Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and others.

Mingus formed Debut Records with Max Roach and issued some of his early Jazz Workshop recordings on the label (along with the famous concert from Massey Hall in 1953 with Parker, Gillespie, Bud Powell and Roach). His radical style of ensemble improvisation and his enduring compositions are captured in groundbreaking discs such as Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956), Ah Um (1959) and the big band album The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963). His large-scale work Epitaph was only performed in complete form in 1989, a decade after his death.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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