Saturday, June 26, 2010

Black Music Month #20: Charles Mingus 1968

Charles Mingus, Jr. was an American Jazz musician, composer, bandleader and social activist. Not only was he a virtuosic double bass player, he was a great pianist, cellist, and trombone player. His influence, besides Jazz, was Gospel music that he heard in church. In his early career, Mingus performed with Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton, and later on, he collaborated with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington. In the 1950s, he formed his own pusblishing and recording companies as well as the "Jazz Workshop," for young composers to have their works performed in concert and on recordings. Throughout his career, he recorded over a hundred albums, recorded over three hundred scores and toured throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States. Charles was at the forefront of avant-garde Jazz, hard bop and other Jazz forms. Mingus received several honors in his later life, such as ballets that were choreographed to his music, including Alvin Ailey's "Mingus Dances," and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts that allowed him to be cataloged and put in the New York Public Library archives.

This is a short film, directed by Thomas Reichman, about Mingus and his five-year old daughter awaiting eviction from their studio in New York City. It is a telling documentary on how America can even treat some of its best talents as crap on the bottom of their shoe. It is sad.

Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968 from Bartley Powers on Vimeo.

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