Monday, October 03, 2005

Charles Mingus: Wham, Bam Thank You Ma'am!

I've got a grip of favorite bass players (Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Norwood Fischer, Charlie Haden, Bootsy Collins, Jaco Pastorius, Adam Clayton and Oscar Pettiford to name a few -- a cello's still a bass in my book, yo) but the biggest bad wolf in the whole pack has to be Charles Mingus...in his prime Charlie cut a whole heap of phat tracks like "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," "Haitian Fight Song," (you might've heard it on the film Jerry Maguire) "E's Flat and Ah's Flat Too" and of course "Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am" which he cut with Rahsaan Roland Kirk (another jazz fave of mine but he sat in the reed section)...I highly recommend this cat to anyone looking for the real deal and to those who don't know his shite, start listening to LP's like Pithecanthropus Erectus, Mingus Dynasty or Oh Yeah which are all top notch recordings, cousin'...hell, before he died even Joni Mitchell had to give him his propers...Laters...

-- CHARLES MINGUS TIMELINE --

1942 Performs with Kid Ory in Barney Bigard’s ensemble.

1943 Charles Mingus goes on the road with jazz legend Louis Armstrong.

1947 Gravitating more towards rhythm and blues, Mingus begins to perform with Lionel Hampton.

1950 Performing as bassist for the Red Norvo Trio, Mingus starts to gain valuable national exposure and make major inroads towards the forefront of the ever evolving jazz world.

1951 Charles Mingus moves to New York and starts performing with jazz performers such as Billy Taylor, Stan Getz and Art Tatum which put him deeper inside the NYC scene.

1952 Mingus forms Debut records with his wife and Max Roach, in an effort to get a wider variety of jazz recorded.

1953 Mingus plays bass at the famous Massey Hall concert in Toronto- sitting in with Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Max Roach. The bassist also began to compose for the Jazz Workshop group.

1955 Gunther Schuller conducts an orchestration called “Revelations” which combined jazz and classical motifs. He and a 22 piece orchestra perform Mingus’ composition “ Half-Mast Inhibition”, which rockets Mingus into the upper eschelons of contemporary jazz composers.

1956 Pithecanthropus Erectus is released by Atlantic Records, heralding a decade of definitive work to come.

1962 Mingus performs the infamous Town Hall concert in an attempt to financially free himself from the shadier side of the jazz music industry’.

1964 Again, in an attempt to break free from the murky dealings in the jazz recording industry, Mingus launches the short lived Mingus Records.

1965 Mingus is thrown off the Monerey Jazz festival bill and retires from playing live all together.

1969 In an effort to avoid fanancial failure, Charlie Mingus returns to the stage after a three year absence.

1971 Mingus is awarded the Slee Chair of music and spends a semester teaching composition at New York State University, Buffalo. Later in the year, his autobiography “Beneath the Underdog” is published.

1972 Charlie Mingus resigns with Columbia records.

1974 Forming a new quintet, Mingus records the album “Cumbia and Jazz Fusion."

1977 Charles Mingus is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and is eventually confined to a wheelchair.

1978 The legendary bassist recieves White House honors and later in the year begins to collaborate with folk rocker Joni Mitchell, who wrote lyrics to Mingus’ songs.

1979 Charles Mingus dies on the fifth day of the year in Cuernavaca, Mexico. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges River.

1989 Ten Years after his death, Mingus’ masterwork “Epitaph” is discovered, with a grant from the Ford Foundation it is transcribed and eventually performed in a concert produced by Sue Mingus at Alice Tully Hall. The 30 piece ensemble was conducted by Gunther Schuller.

1995 The landmark recording, "Jazz At Massey Hall"(Debut, 1953) with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach and Mingus is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

1997 Charles Mingus is posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime achievement award for his contributions to music.

1999 Mingus Dynasty (Album) -Columbia, 1959 is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

-- MO' MINGUS FACTS --

-Raised in Watts, California, Charles Mingus formally studied double bass and composition while moonlighting with popular musicians like Lionel Hampton and Kid Ory.

-After hearing Duke Ellington, the young Mingus first tried to play trombone, then cello and eventually ended up on the double bass.

-Mingus’ composition instructor was Herman Rheinshagen-principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic/ quantitatively, he studied technique from bass legend Lloyd Reese.

-Joining the New York jazz scene in the 40’s, Mingus performed behind such genre luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Art Tatum.

-In addition to writing and performing jazz compositions, Charles Mingus pioneered the melding of classical music with jazz- fusion.In 1960, Mingus canoodled his way out of performing at the Newport Jazz Festival and instead formed the Newport Rebel Festival (which included saxophone iconoclast Ornette Coleman) but these "alternative" dates were not recorded.

-When asked to comment on his musical achievements, Mungus said “... my abilities as a musician are the results of hard work but my talent for composing comes from God."

-Unhappy with the way that record companies treated jazz musicians, Mingus decided to form his own publlishing/record company as well as the “Jazz Workshop” , where aspiring musicians could go and woodshed concepts and record ideas in a supportiive setting.

-Mingus ignored the standard approach to the bass and chose to solo in ways ascribed to piano and woodwind instruments.Well known for his aggressive behavior, Mingus was not above stopping a show (mid-performance) to berate musicians in his ensemble if they didn’t perform up to his standards.

-Charlie Mingus is the only musician that Duke Ellington personally fired from his band.

-Although unable to play piano in his final years of life, the ever formidable composer continued singing new ideas into a tape recorder.

-A pioneering composer writing elaborate scores throughout his lifetime (recording over 100 albums and writing over 300 scores), Mingus wrote “Half-Mast Inhibition at the age 17."Tijuana Moods" was recorded in 1960 but not released until 1962- upon it's release, Mingus submitted "This is the best record I ever made."

-The National Endowment for the Arts provided grants for the Charles Mingus foundation “Let My Children Hear Music”. This microfisced catalogue of all of Mingus’ works is kept in the Music Division of the New York Public Library where they are available for scholarly study/ reference , which was a first for jazz.

-Mingus was convinced that his 4000 composittion “Epitaph” would never be performed in his lifetime (hence the title)- he said” I wrote it for my tombstone. This masterstroke of his undeniable compositional acumen has been heralded as “the first advance in jazz since (Duke) Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy.


-The magazine New Yorker wrote:” For sheer melodic and rhythmic structural originality, his compositions may equal anything written in the 20th century. The Mingus Big Band formed post-humously (in '81) to continue performing his musical legacy.

ALBUMS

1952 -- Strings And Keys -- Debut
1954 -- Moods of Mingus -- Savoy
1954 -- Jazz Composer's Workshop -- Savoy
1954 -- Jazzical Moods, Vol.1 -- Period
1954 -- Intrusions -- Drive Archive
1955 -- The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus -- BCP
1955 -- Jazz Collaborations -- Debut
1955 -- Jazzical Moods, Vol.2 -- Period
1955 -- Chazz -- Fantasy
1955 -- The Charlie Mingus Quintet + Max Roach -- Debut
1955 -- Mingus at the Bohemia -- Original Jazz
1955 -- Plus Max Roach -- Original Jazz
1956 -- Pithecanthropus Erectus -- Atlantic
1957 -- The Clown -- Atlantic
1957 -- Tonight at Noon -- Atlantic
1957 -- Mingus Three -- Capitol
1957 -- Tijuana Moods -- RCA
1957 -- New Tijuana Moods -- Bluebird
1957 -- East Coasting Bethlehem
1957 -- Scenes in the City Affinity
1957 -- A Modern Jazz Symposium of Music & Poetry -- Bethlehem
1958 -- Weary Blues -- Polygram
1959 -- Mingus in Wonderland -- Blue Note
1959 -- Blues and Roots -- Atlantic
1959 -- Mingus Ah Um -- Columbia
1959 -- Mingus Dynasty -- Columbia
1960 -- Mingus Revisited -- Emarcy
1960 -- Pre-Bird Mercury
1960 -- Mingus at Antibes -- Atlantic
1960 -- Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus -- Candid
1960 -- Mingus Presents Mingus -- Candid
1960 -- Mysterious Blues -- Candid
1960 -- Mingus! -- Candid
1961 -- Oh Yeah -- Atlantic
1962 -- Town Hall Concert (UA - live) -- United Artists
1963 -- The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady -- MCA
1963 -- Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus -- MCA
1964 -- Mingus Plays Piano -- Impulse
!1964 -- The Great Concert of Charles Mingus (live) -- Prestige
1964 -- Right Now: Live at Jazz Workshop -- Original Jazz
1964 -- Town Hall Concert (OJC - live) -- Original Jazz
1965 -- My Favorite Quintet -- Charles Mingus
1965 -- Charles Mingus (CM) -- Charles Mingus
1970 -- Reincarnation of a Lovebird -- Candid
1971 -- Let My Children Hear Music -- Columbia
1972 -- Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert (live) -- Sony
1973 -- Mingus Moves -- Atlantic
1974 -- Mingus at Carnegie Hall (live) -- Atlantic
1974 -- Changes One -- Atlantic
1974 -- Changes Two -- Atlantic
1976 -- Cumbia and Jazz Fusion -- Atlantic
1977 -- Three of Four Shades of Blues -- Atlantic
1977 -- Lionel Hampton Presents Music of Charles Mingus -- Who's Who in Jazz
1978 -- Something Like a Bird -- Atlantic
1978 -- Me, Myself an Eye -- Columbia
1990 -- Epitaph -- Unique Jazz
2000 -- Charles Mingus Meets Cat Anderson -- Unique Jazz
2000 -- Live in Stutgart 1964 -- Unique Jazz

COMPILATIONS

1946 -- The Young Rebel -- Swingtime
1951 -- The Complete Debut Recordings -- Debut
1952 -- Thirteen Pictures: The Charles Mingus Collection -- Rhino
1954 -- Welcome to Jazz: Charles Mingus -- Koch International
1954 -- Charles Mingus -- Everest
1954 -- Jazzical Moods -- Fresh Sound
1955 -- Charles Mingus -- Prestige
1956 -- The Art of Charles Mingus -- Atlantic
1956 -- Passions of a Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings -- Rhino
1957 -- New York Scetchbook -- Charly
1957 -- Charles Mingus Trios Jazz Door
1957 -- Debut Rarities, Vol. 3 -- Original Jazz
1959 -- Jazz Portraits -- United Artists
1959 -- Nostalgia in Times Square -- Columbia
1959 -- The Complete
1959 CBS Charles Mingus -- Columbia/ Legacy
1959 -- Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife -- Columbia
1960 -- Better Git It in your Soul -- Columbia
1960 -- The Complete Candid Recordings -- Mosaic
1960 -- In a Soulful Mood -- Music Club
1962 -- Live at Birdland (1962) -- Jazz View
1962 -- The Complete Town Hall Concert -- Blue Note
1963 -- Reevaluation: the Impulse! Years -- Impulse!
1964 -- Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vol. 1 -- Ulysse Musique
1964 -- Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vol. 2 -- Ulysse Musique
1964 -- Live in Oslo 1964, Vol. 1 -- Landscape
1964 -- Fables of Faubas (Jazz Time) live -- Four Star
1964 -- Live in Oslo -- Jazz Up
1964 -- Live in Stockholm -- Royal Jazz
1964 -- Live in Stockholm 1964: The Complete Concert -- Royal Jazz
1964 -- Astral Weeks (live) -- Moon1964 -- Meditation (live) -- France's Conce
1964 -- Live in Paris 1964, Vol.2 -- France's Conce
1964 -- Live in Paris 1964 -- Le Jazz
1964 -- Revenge! (live) -- Revenge
1964 -- The Great Concert (Paris 1964 live) -- Music Club
1964 -- Mingus in Europe, Vol.1 (live) -- Enja
1964 -- Mingus in Europe, Vol. 2 (live) -- Enja
1964 -- Mingus in Europe -- Enja
1964 -- Mingus at Monterey (live) -- VDJ
1964 -- Portrait -- Prestige
1964 -- Paris 1964 (live) -- Le Jazz / Charly
1965 -- Music Written for Monterey, 1965 (live) -- JWS
1969 -- Statements -- Lotus
1970 -- Charlie Mingus in Paris (1970 live) -- Ulysse Musique
1971 -- Charlie Mingus -- Denon
1971 -- With Orchestra -- Denon
1972 -- Live at Chateauvallon (1972) -- France's Conce
1977 -- Giants of Jazz, Vol. 2 -- Who's Who in Jazz
1977 -- His Final Work -- Gateway
1978 -- Soul Fusion -- Pickwick
1990 -- In Europe -- Rhino
1992 -- Debut Rarities, Vol. 2 -- Original Jazz
1992 -- Debut Rarities, Vol 1 -- Original Jazz
1993 -- Collection -- Castle
1994 -- Jazz Portraits/ Mingus in Wonderland (live) -- Blue Note
1994 -- Debut Rarities, Vol. 4 -- Debut
1994 -- Paris 1967 (live) -- Le Jazz
1995 -- Parkeriana Bandstand
1995 -- Jazz Classics -- Peter Pan
1995 -- Stormy & Funky Blues -- Moon
1995 -- Goodbye Pork Pie Hat -- Jazz Hour
1995 -- Live -- Affinity
1995 -- Soulful Mood -- Music Club
1996 -- Goodbye Pork Pie Hat -- Eclipse
1996 -- Sound of Jazz -- Intercontinent
1996 -- Better Git It in your Soul -- Sony Legacy
1996 -- Live at Carnegie Hall -- Rhino
1996 -- This is Jazz, Vol. 6 -- Sony
1997 -- Priceless Jazz Collection -- GRP
1997 -- Summertime -- 32 Jazz
1997 -- Charles Mingus -- GRP1999 -- Alternate Takes -- Sony
1999 -- Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting -- Hallmark
1999 -- Volume 5 Galaxy Sound
1999 -- Immortal Concerts (live) -- Giants of Jazz
1999 -- Pithecanthropus Erectus -- Giants of Jazz
1999 -- Backtracks Renaissance
1999 -- Summertime -- Intercontinent
1999 -- Orange -- Moon
1999 -- Fables of Faubas (Giants of Jazz) -- Giants of Jazz
2000 -- Les Incontournables WEA International
2000 -- Lionel Hampton Presents Charlie Mingus -- Giants of Jazz
2000 -- Abstractions -- Affinity
2000 -- Jazz Workshop Abstractions -- Affinity
2000 -- The Complete 1959 CBS Charlie Mingus -- Mosaic
2000 -- Meditations on Integration -- Bandstand

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