ATTENTION, ATTENTION!!!! With this current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic in full bloom, and in the effort to keep you, our wonderful supporters, the SOJP staff and the artists involved safe from potential illness, the Spotlight On Jazz & Poetry Annual Event “Ascension” has been POSTPONED until further notice! Those of you that pre-purchased tickets will get a full refund. The SOJP committee will contact each of you promptly! If however you would like to hold on to your tickets for the rescheduled event they will be honored at that time. We apologize for any inconvenience! Stay safe and may God help us make it through this health challenge!
A DREAM DEFERRED

A DREAM DEFERRED

01

about

Charles Mingus was born April 22, 1922 in Nogales, Arizona, but was raised largely in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California. His mother’s paternal heritage was Chinese, while historical records indicate that his father was the illegitimate offspring of a mulatto farmhand and his employer’s white granddaughter.

His mother allowed only church-related music in their home, but Mingus developed an early love for jazz, especially Ellington’s music. He studied trombone, and later cello. Much of the cello technique he learned was applicable to double bass when he took up the instrument in high school.

Even in his teen years, Mingus was writing quite advanced pieces; many are similar to Third Stream Jazz. A number of them were recorded in 1960 with conductor Gunther Schuller, and released as Pre-Bird, referring to Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Mingus gained a reputation as something of a bass prodigy. He toured with Louis Armstrong in 1943, then played with Lionel Hampton’s band in the late 1940s; Hampton performed and recorded a few of Mingus’s pieces. A popular trio of Mingus, Red Norvo and Tal Farlow in 1950 and 1951 received considerable acclaim. Mingus was briefly a member of Ellington’s band in the early 1950s, and Mingus’s notorious temper reportedly led to his being the only musician personally fired by Ellington (although there are reports that Sidney Bechet was another victim).

Mingus is highly ranked among the composers and performers of jazz, and he recorded many highly regarded albums. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. His songs—though melodic and distinctive—are not often recorded by later musicians, in part because of their unconventional nature. Mingus was also influential and creative as a bandleader, recruiting talented and sometimes little-known artists whom he assembled into unconventional and revealing configurations.

Nearly as well known as his ambitious music was Mingus’ often fearsome temperament, which earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz.” His refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many onstage explosions, though it has been argued that his temper also grew from a need to vent frustration. Ironically, a perfect show could irritate him by closing this outlet.

Mingus was prone to depression. He tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.

Most of Mingus’s music retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream Jazz and free jazz. Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz. Mingus focused on 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, Mingus looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. He strove to create unique music to be played by unique musicians.

Due to his brilliant writing for mid-size ensembles — and his catering to and emphasizing the strengths of the musicians in his groups — Mingus is often considered the heir apparent to Duke Ellington, for whom he expressed unqualified admiration.

02

ABOUT

Charles Mingus was born April 22, 1922 in Nogales, Arizona, but was raised largely in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California. His mother’s paternal heritage was Chinese, while historical records indicate that his father was the illegitimate offspring of a mulatto farmhand and his employer’s white granddaughter.

His mother allowed only church-related music in their home, but Mingus developed an early love for jazz, especially Ellington’s music. He studied trombone, and later cello. Much of the cello technique he learned was applicable to double bass when he took up the instrument in high school.

Even in his teen years, Mingus was writing quite advanced pieces; many are similar to Third Stream Jazz. A number of them were recorded in 1960 with conductor Gunther Schuller, and released as Pre-Bird, referring to Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Mingus gained a reputation as something of a bass prodigy. He toured with Louis Armstrong in 1943, then played with Lionel Hampton’s band in the late 1940s; Hampton performed and recorded a few of Mingus’s pieces. A popular trio of Mingus, Red Norvo and Tal Farlow in 1950 and 1951 received considerable acclaim. Mingus was briefly a member of Ellington’s band in the early 1950s, and Mingus’s notorious temper reportedly led to his being the only musician personally fired by Ellington (although there are reports that Sidney Bechet was another victim).

Mingus is highly ranked among the composers and performers of jazz, and he recorded many highly regarded albums. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. His songs—though melodic and distinctive—are not often recorded by later musicians, in part because of their unconventional nature. Mingus was also influential and creative as a bandleader, recruiting talented and sometimes little-known artists whom he assembled into unconventional and revealing configurations.

Nearly as well known as his ambitious music was Mingus’ often fearsome temperament, which earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz.” His refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many onstage explosions, though it has been argued that his temper also grew from a need to vent frustration. Ironically, a perfect show could irritate him by closing this outlet.

Mingus was prone to depression. He tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.

Most of Mingus’s music retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream Jazz and free jazz. Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz. Mingus focused on 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, Mingus looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. He strove to create unique music to be played by unique musicians.

Due to his brilliant writing for mid-size ensembles — and his catering to and emphasizing the strengths of the musicians in his groups — Mingus is often considered the heir apparent to Duke Ellington, for whom he expressed unqualified admiration.

03

A DREAM DEFERRED

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