Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

The most powerful number in voodoo? 22. Mingus? Born on the 22nd of April! In 1922! Coincidence? Of course not. Like jazz music, it's attendant culture and vicissitudes, voodoo is a hybrid of West African and Western European aesthetics, religion and philosophy. Mingus' music, perhaps more so than any other composer in jazz, is an expression of this fertile cross-pollination of spiritual practice with the rituals of daily life. Mingus' music came from life and, many would say, was life itself. One of the most naked and emotional figures in jazz, Mingus was a man of tremendous passions, loves, hates, loves, sorrows and triumphs. His music delved into and radically explored almost every aspect of human existence. Candid, outspoken and blunt beyond comparison, Mingus' musical personality was much like his own. He could also, and often did, create musical expressions of such awesome gentleness and subtle feeling that one could be easily lead to tears of tragic ecstasy. As a composer he drew from the full panorama of the Western European canon as well as the blues, spirituals and folk music of all stripes to create his jazz. An innovator of the highest order Mingus furthered Ellington's experiments with the tone poem to create some of the most vital and influential works in jazz, such as Pithecanthropus Erectus & the devastating Meditations for a Pair of Wirecutters (Praying with Eric.) Mingus also pioneered in the use of "atomspherics" and the use of "little instruments" for extra-musical effect, such as in Scenes in the City and A Foggy Day(In San Francisco.) Long before the evolution of the term, Mingus was often writing passages into his compositions for his musicians to play "free." While many have long considered Tijuana Moods as the definitive Mingus album, he was quoted as saying it was his best to date (1957), I would say The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady is closer. Though, if we are honest, there is, and could never be, a definitive Mingus album. He was far too prolific and far, far too complex. Here are my top five;

1. The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady
2. Tijuana Moods
3. Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus
4. Town Hall Concert (1964)
5. East Coasting

1 comment:

monte merrick said...

mingus - oh yes! and incidentally, i've always wondered about the strange connection with the # 22 - the 22nd of each month has always seemed like a holiday (october 22 being the somber day...)