Mingus Speaks by John F. Goodman, Sy Johnson

By John F. Goodman, Sy Johnson

Charles Mingus is between jazz’s maximum composers and maybe its such a lot proficient bass participant. He was once blunt and outspoken in regards to the position of jazz in tune heritage and American tradition, approximately which performers have been the true factor (or not), and lots more and plenty extra. those in-depth interviews, performed numerous years prior to Mingus died, seize the composer’s spirit and voice, revealing how he observed himself as composer and performer, how he considered his friends and predecessors, how he created his notable song, and the way he checked out race. Augmented with interviews and observation by way of ten shut associates—including Mingus’s spouse Sue, Teo Macero, George Wein, and Sy Johnson—Mingus Speaks offers a wealth of recent views at the musician’s lifestyles and career.

As a author for Playboy, John F. Goodman reviewed Mingus’s comeback live performance in 1972 and went directly to in attaining an intimacy with the composer that brings a calm and candid tone to the resultant interviews. a lot of what Mingus stocks indicates him in a brand new mild: his character, his passions and humorousness, and his techniques on song. The conversations are wide-ranging, laying off clean gentle on vital milestones in Mingus’s lifestyles equivalent to the ebook of his memoir, underneath the Underdog, the well-known Tijuana episodes, his relationships, and the jazz company.

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Politics and art have never merged easily and have frequently failed, as they did in the New Thing, to merge at all. The Africanism in much of that music was often just an overlay, and it was simply not cool to stress the importance of training and tradition: that was too Western, too white, too Brubeck. Not everyone saw it that way, of course. ’ ”3 A 1958 piece by Kenneth Rexroth, one of jazz’s best and least-acknowledged critics, predates this observation and presents “Some Thoughts on Jazz as Music, as Revolt, as Mystique” with references to Mingus (whom Rexroth knew well) throughout.

Mingus: Right, and he was avant-garde. goodman: He was called the most avant-garde composer around. And he knew better. He once told somebody who called him the leader of the 36 / Avant-Garde and Tradition avant-garde, “No, there’s no avant-garde. ” And that’s beautiful, because it really shouldn’t be a ques­ tion of people being either advanced or late. The reason the critics use this is because it’s a handle, a label, an easy kind of way to put people in categories. ” Well, OK, that’s fine, but— mingus: But when their system has shown up what they’re doing— goodman: Yeah, you want to say, “All right, what do you relate to, man?

What else? • • • End of solo. ” • • • interviewer: Yeah, well, what else now? I just would like to go back to your music, you know, if you don’t mind. You mentioned your latest record on Columbia—are you now working on a new album? mingus: Well, it probably will be an album because George Wein’s people always record at Newport [in New York], and some way I’ll have a big band there, and a couple of weeks before that I’m going to be at a theater. 7 I’ll be working the band out there, plus I’ll have a string quartet, not the usual—I’ll have two cellos, a viola, and violin.

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