Jazz April Birthday: Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus 1922-1979. Credit: wolfgangsvault.com

Written by Robin Lloyd.

Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer.  Influenced both by church choirs and Duke Ellington, he studied double bass and composition with classical masters.

Mingus played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950′s– Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself.  He led his own bands, formed his own publishing and recording companies and  founded the “Jazz Workshop,” a group which enabled young composers to have their new works performed in concert and on recordings.

His legacy includes an amazing collection of original compositions, and the Charles Mingus Foundation, which supports music education and presents an annual high school band competition and festival.

In the works is a Kickstarter-funded documentary film called “Mingus On Mingus,” directed by his grandson Kevin Ellington Mingus.

Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.  –Charles Mingus


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