Mingus Speaks

Overview

Charles Mingus is among jazz’s greatest composers and perhaps its most talented bass player. He was blunt and outspoken about the place of jazz in music history and American culture, about which performers were the real thing (or not), and much more. These in-depth interviews, conducted several years before Mingus died, capture the composer’s spirit and voice, revealing how he saw himself as composer and performer, how he viewed his peers and predecessors, how he created his extraordinary music, and how he looked...

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Mingus Speaks

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Overview

Charles Mingus is among jazz’s greatest composers and perhaps its most talented bass player. He was blunt and outspoken about the place of jazz in music history and American culture, about which performers were the real thing (or not), and much more. These in-depth interviews, conducted several years before Mingus died, capture the composer’s spirit and voice, revealing how he saw himself as composer and performer, how he viewed his peers and predecessors, how he created his extraordinary music, and how he looked at race. Augmented with interviews and commentary by ten close associates—including Mingus’s wife Sue, Teo Macero, George Wein, and Sy Johnson—Mingus Speaks provides a wealth of new perspectives on the musician’s life and career.

As a writer for Playboy, John F. Goodman reviewed Mingus’s comeback concert in 1972 and went on to achieve an intimacy with the composer that brings a relaxed and candid tone to the ensuing interviews. Much of what Mingus shares shows him in a new light: his personality, his passions and sense of humor, and his thoughts on music. The conversations are wide-ranging, shedding fresh light on important milestones in Mingus’s life such as the publication of his memoir, Beneath the Underdog, the famous Tijuana episodes, his relationships, and the jazz business.

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Editorial Reviews

All About Jazz
"What's clear from Goodman's fluid interactions with Mingus is that the bassist trusted him. Consequently, Mingus' thoughts have the ring of honesty about them, even if his versions of certain events were often at odds with the way others perceived them. . . . Goodman extracts plenty of material that will delight Mingus' fans and ignite debate."
MOJO Magazine
"Known for mind-gaming journalists, Mingus is

open, voluble and very funny here, clearly due to his trust for the

interlocutor. . . . Like a tasteful musician, Goodman

lays out until the improvisational repartee calls for him."

Jerry Jazz Musician
"Mingus Speaks provides a wealth of new perspectives on the musician’s life and career. . . . Much of what Mingus shares shows him in a new light: his personality, his passions and sense of humor, and his thoughts on music. The conversations are wide-ranging, shedding fresh light on important milestones in Mingus’s life such as the publication of his memoir, Beneath the Underdog, the famous Tijuana episodes, his relationships, and the jazz business."
Foreword Reviews - Jack Shakely
"Makes for fascinating reading."
IAJRC Journal
"Goodman is a superb guide to Mingus"
JJA News
"A valuable contribution to 20th century jazz history."
Santa Fe New Mexican
"The book is full of . . . illuminating stories."
Library Journal
Clearly a labor of love, this set of annotated interviews conducted by Goodman (Working at the Calling) were the result of a commission from Playboy magazine to review Charles Mingus’s “comeback” concert in 1972. Over the next two years, the artist and the journalist conversed frequently, resulting in over 24 hours’ worth of recorded conversations. Mingus’s candid intelligence shines through in these interviews as the discussion ranges through all aspects of jazz, from composition to performance to history and more, and on to matters of American culture, politics, and race. Goodman provides just enough ancillary content to give the reader context for their conversations, plus a little additional reflection born of his own acquaintance with Mingus and love and knowledge of jazz, as well as comments from ten of Mingus’s closest friends and associates, including his wife, Sue. Goodman has further organized these interviews into thematic chapters; a glance at the table of contents whets the appetite to read their talks.

Verdict Not for newbies, but fans of Mingus will definitely want to get their hands on this book, not to mention jazz scholars looking for primary sources.—Genevieve Williams, Pacific Lutheran Univ. Lib., Tacoma
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520275232
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2013
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 1,374,559
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John F. Goodman is a writer, former music critic, professor, and media consultant based in Oaxaca, Mexico

Sy Johnson is a jazz photographer, writer, pianist, singer, educator, and former Mingus arranger

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface


Introduction

1. Avant-Garde and Tradition
2. Studying, Teaching, and Earning a Living
3. Recordings: Children and Friends
4. Authenticity: Whose Tribe Are You
In?
5. Musicians: Reminiscing in Tempo
6. Debut Records, George Wein, and the Music Business
7. The Clubs and the Mafia
8. The Critics
9. Survival: The Reason for the Blues
10. Eviction and Laying Out
11. Mingus Women
12. Mingus on Sue
13. The Real and the Fictional Mingus

Chronology
Acknowledgments

Index

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