At once an essential composer in the history of jazz and a bass player extraordinaire, Charles Mingus was born on April 22, 1922 in Nogales, Arizona, and grew up in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. He made his recording debut with Lionel Hampton in 1947, and performed on numerous recordings with Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, and many others. His several honors inlcuded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an honorary degree from Brandeis University, and the Slee Chair in Music at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Charles Mingus died in 1979 at the age of 56.
Beneath the Underdog; His World as Composed by Mingusby Charles Mingus, Erroll McDonald (Editor), George Ed. Weber
It tells of his God-haunted childhood in Watts/i>
Bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, is one of the essential composers in the history of jazz, and Beneath the Underdog, his celebrated, wild, funny, demonic, anguished, shocking, and profoundly moving memoir, is the greatest autobiography ever written by a jazz musician.
It tells of his God-haunted childhood in Watts during the 1920s and 1930s; his outcast adolescent years; his apprenticeship, not only with jazzmen but also with pimps, hookers, junkies, and hoodlums; and his golden years in New York City with such legendary figures as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. Here is Mingus in his own words, from shabby roadhouses to fabulous estates, from the psychiatric wards of Bellevue to worlds of mysticism and solitude, but for all his travels never straying too far, always returning to music.
“This book is the purest of dynamite. Like the autobiographies of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday and like A. B. Spellman's Four Lives in the Bebop Business, it says more about the American psyche in general and black survival in particular than the sociologists and psychologists ever can in their stiff, soulless vocabularies.... Somber, comic, disturbing, boastful, confessional, sentimental, contradictory, poetic, irascible, impish...lyrical, nasty, angelic, reflective...expressionistic, picaresque, jive...this is a powerful book.”— Rolling Stone
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st Vintage Books ed
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)
Meet the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Charles Mingus was a genius, and this book was a sort of a peek into his mind. It is a testament that there is a blurred line between genius and insanity. An interesting read, especially if you are into jazz.
Seeing some book by Mingus in a rack at a used book store, I wanted to seem more hip so I bought it. Five pages hooked me. Mingus' narrative style, like his music, is completely original and unpredictable. Writing (sometimes) from the point of view of his own guardian angel, Mingus displays a mastery over words that one would not even expect from most professional writers, and certainly not a professional musician (for example, Miles' autobiography does not even compare--and he had a ghostwriter). An example of his genius.
memoirs so inevasively devolve to a horrid mannerism of value certainly yet distinct from writer . this in distant contrast book seems to exist so well beyond anything at all that i begin to refreshingly question the relative value of anything at all ; in literature if it just can't find ebullient pulse with all of the myriad vibrances life should have .
Mingus will break you heart then make you laugh out loud. The story of his 'rest cure' at the asylum in NYC alone is worth the price of the book. A triumph of the human spirit against racism, poverty, and exploitation.