Mingus, a Critical Biography

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Da Capo Press, 1984 - Biography & Autobiography - 308 pages
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It would be no exaggeration to call Charles Mingus the greatest bass player in the history of jazz; indeed, some might even regard it as understatement, for the hurricane power of his work as a composer, teacher, band leader, and iconoclast reached far beyond jazz while remaining true to its heritage in the music of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk. In this new biography Brian Priestley has written a masterly study of Mingus’s dynamic career from the early years in Swing, to the escapades of the Bebop era, through his musical maturity in the ’50s when he directed a band that redefined collective improvisation in jazz. Woven in with exacting assessments of Mingus’s artistic legacy is the story of his volatile, unpredictable, sometimes dangerous personality. The book views Mingus as a black artist increasingly politicized by his situation, but also unreliable as a witness to his own persecution. Capturing him in all his furious contradictions—passionate, cool, revolutionary but with a keen sense of tradition—Brian Priestley has produced what can be called, again without exaggeration, the best biography of a jazz musician we have ever seen.
  

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Contents

West Coast Ghost
24
Bird Calls
45
FiftyFirst Street Blues
71
All The Things You Could Be By Now
97
Money Jungle
122
Black Saint
142
Put Me In That Dungeon
172
Myself When I Am Real
194
Epitaph
216
B Nonstandard Chorus Structures in Mingus Compositions
243
References
285
Index
298
Copyright

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About the author (1984)

Brian Priestley was born in Manchester, England in 1946. Jazz pianist and critic, he also presents a weekly jazz program for the BBC in London where he now lives.

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