Charlie Mingus – powerful romantic


I’ve got plenty of writing to do this morning, writing, proofreading, citating, etc.  Nothing like a deadline to make sure the work gets done.  But just as important is the music.  Mingus is an artist with whom I need to become more conversant.  I’ve heard a little bit here, a little bit there, and it’s all good.  The other magnetising factor drawing me in is the huge influence he had on Zappa.  I can hear it plainy (plus I’ve read about it), but there also that touchy issue of band politics that has fascinated me since I was first in a band in college.  Mingus ran some tight bands.

So that’s what’s on the speakers today, mostly from the 60’s output.  I hear his bands jam with ferocity and then switch back to a romantic swagger.  Picture a late night in New York City circa 1962.  The big black Cadillacs reflect all the glittering lights of the city as they make their way through the Village.  Beatniks mix with couples who are dressed in formal evening attire.  Martinis flow like water and, unlike today, you have to go outside to get away from the cigarette smoke.

On stage, the band sweats through another arrangment and everyone is in a trance as the big man behind the bass conducts the proceedings into the early morning hours.