Friday, June 21, 2013

Books: Mingus Speaks by John F. Goodman (University of California Press, 2013)

Bassist and composer Charles Mingus was one of the iconic figures of post-war jazz. Working in any configuration from solo to big band, Mingus's heart-on-sleeve music was only matched by his larger than life stature and blunt outspoken nature. This volume collects interviews with Mingus conducted by John Goodman during the period 1972-1974. This was a comeback period for Mingus, who had suffered a series of health and financial setbacks during the previous decade. This was also a fertile period, when he recorded the albums Changes One and Two, Let My Children Hear Music, Mingus and Friends and Mingus at Carnegie Hall. He would soon be slowed by the onset of ALS, which he would pass away from in 1979. This book finds him in fighting form however, criticizing everything from Madison Avenue and the American consumer culture to the free-jazz New Thing movement that developed in the 1960's. Mingus was a ferociously intelligent man and it is fascinating to read his thoughts on music and life in general. Fans of Mingus and jazz history in general will find a lot of enjoyment here and it makes a perfect counterpoint to the man's fact and fiction autobiography eneath the Beneath the Underdog: His World as composed by Mingus. Mingus Speaks -

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