Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What do you consider Mingus' most defining works?

Happy Birthday, Charles Mingus!

To celebrate the birthday of the soulful, ever unpredictable (both in music and temperament), uncompromising, prolific composer and master bassist Charles Mingus, we posed a question on social media yesterday:

What do you consider Mingus' most defining works?

As you might imagine, we got a wealth of responses! By far, the two most popular were Mingus' seminal "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (Mingus Ah Um, 1959) & "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" (The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, 1963).

After a first wave of comments, contributors started giving +1's to the better known Mingus works, and then adding more obscure, but still timeless works, including one of Mingus' large-group recordings, Let My Children Hear Music (below), as well as Changes 1 & Changes 2.

Aaron Levin wrote: "+1 for Pork Pie. Greatest jazz ballad ever written that really shows Mingus' genius as both player and composer! Second maybe "Pithecanthropus Erectus." I mean, how many other people can pull off a tune depicting the moral tale of human evolution!?!"

Joshua Bleier finally commented with perhaps Mingus' best remembered compositions: "'Fables of Faubus' is Mingus' most powerful and moving work to me. To meet that kind of bigotry and ugliness with such beautiful, transcendent music is awe-inspiring."

John Spallone spoke to what is clearly an abundance of riches: "I can't name a single favorite work by Mingus. 'Freedom' has a wonderful poem, followed by a bluesy break, and a remarkable tempo change. 'Hog Callin' Blues' is another piece I will not hear often enough in this life. The extended version of 'C Jam Blues,' with George Adams and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, among others, is another great piece."

Clearly the list goes on, and on... If you think we're missing anything, by all means, share more Mingus in the comment section below!

To see the full list of comments, visit SFJAZZ on Facebook!

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