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Mingus: A Critical Biography

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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 t 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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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 t 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.

30 review for Mingus: A Critical Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ellis

    This is a very in-depth biographical review of Mingus's controversial and hectic career. I really appreciate the incorporation of music theory explanations and an appendix of score examples. Really, it's a fine jazz biography. This is a very in-depth biographical review of Mingus's controversial and hectic career. I really appreciate the incorporation of music theory explanations and an appendix of score examples. Really, it's a fine jazz biography.

  2. 5 out of 5

    k

    I enjoyed reading this book but wished I had read "Beneath the Underdog" before I read this. This delved more into the meanings and roots of his compositions while also drawing a lot from Beneath the Underdog to talk about his life. I enjoyed reading this book but wished I had read "Beneath the Underdog" before I read this. This delved more into the meanings and roots of his compositions while also drawing a lot from Beneath the Underdog to talk about his life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jon Mahon

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Balestri

  6. 5 out of 5

    J Demedeiros

  7. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Brown

  8. 4 out of 5

    L.Vaughn

  9. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hvg

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jon

  14. 5 out of 5

    Russell

  15. 4 out of 5

    dv

    Best book on Mingus music.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Pemberton

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Marckx

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  20. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

  22. 4 out of 5

    jmm kazi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marcroman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  25. 5 out of 5

    Will Manville

  26. 4 out of 5

    NaClO

  27. 5 out of 5

    James McGovern

  28. 5 out of 5

    David

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Williams

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