Playing the Truth: Charles Mingus’s Jazz in Detroit/ Strata Concert Gallery/ 46 Selden


“In January of 1979, two extraordinary losses occurred in Mexico. 56 sperm whales beached themselves on the country’s coast line. Reportedly on the same day, fabled jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus died of heart failure related to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was 56. Mingus had gone to Mexico in the late stages of his disease to seek alternative treatment.  He was cremated and his ashes were poured into the Ganges, the sacred river that runs through India and Bangladesh. The whales were also burned, their ashes disposed in a dump. Decades after his deaths, Mingus remains the truest heir to Duke Ellington’s musical dynamism. That shouldn’t come as a secret. Mingus long adored the legendary composer publicly and privately, even signing on as the bassist with Ellington’s band. Ellington quickly sacked the bassist after Mingus attacked the trombonist Juan Tizol as the band opened a show, a story set to legend in Mingus’s autobiography, Beneath the Underdog. Published in 1971, it took Mingus almost two decades to write and did little to separate fact from fiction. The book, however, remains one of the most visceral depictions of a life in jazz. In the spring of 1971, 22 months before Mingus recorded the show that is now offered as Jazz in Detroit/ Strata Concert Gallery/ 46 Selden, Whitney Balliett described for The New Yorker how a late era Mingus performance unfolded. … As a band leader, Mingus could be overbearing, angry, and drunk, often all at once — his eggnog recipe is lionized amongst aficionados and neophytes alike. But it is his music that remains is immutable, a brawny aural juggernaut that puts caterwauling American experience to song. On February 13 1973, Mingus hit the Strata Gallery stage in Detroit. Part of a local radio station’s winter pledge drive, the composer brought with him a quintet of diverse musicians, a smaller band than usual. With Roy Brooks on drums and saw (yes, a saw!), John Stubblefield on tenor saxophone, Joe Gardiner on trumpet, and Don Pullen on piano, Mingus laid out more than 4 hours of music. …”
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YouTube: Jazz in Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden 13 videos

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