Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus was one of the most innovative jazz musicians of the 20th century, and ranks with Charles Ives and Duke Ellington as one of America's greatest composers. By temperament, he was a high-strung and sensitive romantic, a towering figure whose tempestuous personal life found powerfully coherent expression in the ever-shifting textures of his music. Now, acclaimed music critic Gene Santoro strips away the myths shrouding "Jazz's Angry Man," revealing Mingus as more complex than even his close friends knew. Written in a lively, novelistic style, Myself When I Am Real draws on dozens of new interviews and previously untapped letters and archival materials to explore the intricate connections between this extraordinary man and the extraordinary music he made.
and fury signifying nothing. But it reflected the feverish new rhythms and underlying discords of postwar American life. For the next forty years, as prosperity and tensions percolated through American society, the culture heaved and buckled under the stress. Painfully, its dynamics gave birth to a postwar renaissance that spanned the arts. But in 66 PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST the late 1940s the voices of the new American individualism were fractional, underground, hardly more than a series of
written. Two pungent, four-bar phrases in canon sparked off fireworks for twelve minutes. He was feeling the Zeitgeist again. 127 MYSELF WHEN I AM REAL In January, a number of black ministers formed what they called the Southern Leaders Conference. A month later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became its head. Soon the group was renamed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and focused on getting voting rights. J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director, believed that civil rights activists were
layered, sparring riffs over a single chord, then shifted to a ballad section. "Conversation" pivoted on short instrumental exchanges. Mingus opened the disc with a starkly plaintive "Memories of You" that featured a long bass solo. These days, Celia and he rarely spoke. By fall, Diane Dorr-Dorynek, another five-foot four-inch white blonde, was taking care of his correspondence for Jazz Workshop Inc., which he'd set up that April. She was paid $40 a week.13 Her father was a military man, but she
Coast, and pulled together a fourteen-piece big band to launch Farwell Taylor's newest venture. For years, Farwell and Faye and Shelley rebuilt their two-level tumbledown structure on the Old Mill Stream in Mill Valley. They'd just added a deck to their restaurant, The Palate. Farwell's dream was to serve health food and host weekend jazz groups. They lived upstairs, and he had a studio in a small outbuilding, where he was painting a series of jazz portraits. On the best of them, the eyes seemed
L them. But when he hoisted it on his shoulder and started to walk out, a clerk appeared almost magically. He called Mamie, and she gave Judy a recipe for peach ice cream. That August's royalty statement from Columbia brought a $905.01 check.38 He was preparing for the first Candid recording of his Workshop. One rehearsal, he pulled up at a gas station with the band in his car, got one dollar's worth of gas, and asked for the special restroom key. He found the Brooklyn subway station he'd been