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Charles Mingus

Date de naissance: 22. avril 1922
Date de décès: 5. janvier 1979

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Charlie Mingus, né Charles Mingus, Jr le 22 avril 1922 à Nogales, Arizona, et mort le 5 janvier 1979 à Cuernavaca , est un contrebassiste, compositeur et pianiste de jazz américain. Il était aussi connu pour son engagement antiraciste.

Il a apporté une contribution majeure au jazz, à la fois en qualité de compositeur et chef d'orchestre, mais aussi en tant qu'instrumentiste. De nombreux musiciens sont passés par ses différentes formations pour ensuite se lancer dans des carrières impressionnantes. Ses compositions, bien que mélodiques et marquantes, ne sont pas souvent reprises, ce qui est peut-être dû à leur caractère non conventionnel.

Son tempérament excentrique et souvent effrayant est presque aussi connu que sa musique. Son refus de compromettre son intégrité artistique et un certain nombre d'expériences traumatisantes liées au racisme ont provoqué de nombreuses éruptions de colère sur scène et ailleurs.

Une grande partie de la musique de Mingus est basée sur l'énergie du bebop et du hard bop, avec une forte influence du gospel. Mingus utilise aussi fréquemment des éléments du Third Stream, du free jazz, du jazz Nouvelle-Orléans et même de la musique classique, tout en évitant toujours les catégories et en créant une musique personnelle. Il s'intéresse à l'improvisation collective et est très attentif à l'interaction de chaque musicien avec la formation entière. Il écrit des parties instrumentales en tenant compte des spécificités de ses musiciens, ce qui le rapproche des méthodes de Duke Ellington pour qui il a une admiration sans limites.

Atteint par la sclérose latérale amyotrophique, il passe la fin de sa vie dans un fauteuil roulant. Les premiers symptômes de paralysie apparaissent au printemps 1977, et le diagnostic est établi le 23 novembre 1977. Sa dernière apparition sur scène a lieu au State University Theater à Phoenix, Arizona pendant l'automne 1977. Il est reçu par le président Jimmy Carter à la Maison-Blanche le 18 juin 1978 et décède six mois plus tard à Cuernavaca au Mexique.

Le Mingus Big Band, qui continue de donner des concerts, a été créé par Sue Mingus après la mort de son mari dont l'objectif est de jouer la musique de Mingus y compris les nombreuses compositions qui ont été découvertes après sa mort.

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Citations Charles Mingus

„Music is, or was, a language of the emotions. If someone has been escaping reality, I don't expect him to dig my music“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: I think my own way. I don't think like you and my music isn't meant just for the patting of feet and going down backs. When and if I feel gay and carefree, I write or play that way. When I feel angry I write or play that way — or when I'm happy, or depressed, even. Just because I'm playing jazz I don't forget about me. I play or write me, the way I feel, through jazz, or whatever. Music is, or was, a language of the emotions. If someone has been escaping reality, I don't expect him to dig my music, and I would begin to worry about my writing if such a person began to really like it. My music is alive and it's about the living and the dead, about good and evil. It's angry, yet it's real because it knows it's angry.

„Let my children have music! Let them hear live music. Not noise.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Let my children have music! Let them hear live music. Not noise. My children! You do what you want with your own!

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„It seems so hard for some of us to grow up mentally just enough to realize that there are other persons of flesh and bone, just like us, on this great, big earth. And if they don't ever stand still, move, or "swing," they are as right as we are, even if they are as wrong as hell by our standards.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: It seems so hard for some of us to grow up mentally just enough to realize that there are other persons of flesh and bone, just like us, on this great, big earth. And if they don't ever stand still, move, or "swing," they are as right as we are, even if they are as wrong as hell by our standards. Yes, Miles, I am apologizing for my stupid "Blindfold Test." I can do it gladly because I'm learning a little something. No matter how much they try to say that Brubeck doesn't swing — or whatever else they're stewing or whoever else they're brewing — it's factually unimportant. Not because Dave made Time magazine — and a dollar — but mainly because Dave honestly thinks he's swinging. He feels a certain pulse and plays a certain pulse which gives him pleasure and a sense of exaltation because he's sincerely doing something the way he, Dave Brubeck, feels like doing it. And as you said in your story, Miles, "if a guy makes you pat your foot, and if you feel it down your back, etc.," then Dave is the swingingest by your own definition, Miles, because at Newport and elsewhere Dave had the whole house patting its feet and even clapping its hands....

„Good jazz is when the leader jumps on the piano, waves his arms, and yells.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Good jazz is when the leader jumps on the piano, waves his arms, and yells. Fine jazz is when a tenorman lifts his foot in the air. Great jazz is when he heaves a piercing note for 32 bars and collapses on his hands and knees. A pure genius of jazz is manifested when he and the rest of the orchestra run around the room while the rhythm section grimaces and dances around their instruments. Quoted in "What'd I Say?" : The Atlantic Story : 50 Years of Music (2001) by Ahmet M. Ertegun; also partially quoted in What Is This Thing Called Jazz?: African American Musicians As Artists, Critics, and Activists (2002) by Eric C. Porter, p. 118, and Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz And the Making of the Sixties (2005) by Scott Saul, p. 154

„My music is alive and it's about the living and the dead, about good and evil. It's angry, yet it's real because it knows it's angry.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: I think my own way. I don't think like you and my music isn't meant just for the patting of feet and going down backs. When and if I feel gay and carefree, I write or play that way. When I feel angry I write or play that way — or when I'm happy, or depressed, even. Just because I'm playing jazz I don't forget about me. I play or write me, the way I feel, through jazz, or whatever. Music is, or was, a language of the emotions. If someone has been escaping reality, I don't expect him to dig my music, and I would begin to worry about my writing if such a person began to really like it. My music is alive and it's about the living and the dead, about good and evil. It's angry, yet it's real because it knows it's angry.

„A pure genius of jazz is manifested when he and the rest of the orchestra run around the room while the rhythm section grimaces and dances around their instruments.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Good jazz is when the leader jumps on the piano, waves his arms, and yells. Fine jazz is when a tenorman lifts his foot in the air. Great jazz is when he heaves a piercing note for 32 bars and collapses on his hands and knees. A pure genius of jazz is manifested when he and the rest of the orchestra run around the room while the rhythm section grimaces and dances around their instruments. Quoted in "What'd I Say?" : The Atlantic Story : 50 Years of Music (2001) by Ahmet M. Ertegun; also partially quoted in What Is This Thing Called Jazz?: African American Musicians As Artists, Critics, and Activists (2002) by Eric C. Porter, p. 118, and Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz And the Making of the Sixties (2005) by Scott Saul, p. 154

„I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Now, whether there is feeling or not depends upon what your environment or your association is or whatever you may have in common with the player. If you feel empathy for his personal outlook, you naturally feel him musically more than some other environmental and musical opposite who is, in a way. beyond you. I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around. But there is no need to compare composers. If you like Beethoven, Bach or Brahms, that's okay. They were all pencil composers. I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer. I thought I was, although no one's mentioned that. I mean critics or musicians. Now, what I'm getting at is that I know I'm a composer. I marvel at composition, at people who are able to take diatonic scales, chromatics, 12-tone scales, or even quarter-tone scales. I admire anyone who can come up with something original. But not originality alone, because there can be originality in stupidity, with no musical description of any emotion or any beauty the man has seen, or any kind of life he has lived.

„I think my own way. I don't think like you and my music isn't meant just for the patting of feet and going down backs.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: I think my own way. I don't think like you and my music isn't meant just for the patting of feet and going down backs. When and if I feel gay and carefree, I write or play that way. When I feel angry I write or play that way — or when I'm happy, or depressed, even. Just because I'm playing jazz I don't forget about me. I play or write me, the way I feel, through jazz, or whatever. Music is, or was, a language of the emotions. If someone has been escaping reality, I don't expect him to dig my music, and I would begin to worry about my writing if such a person began to really like it. My music is alive and it's about the living and the dead, about good and evil. It's angry, yet it's real because it knows it's angry.

„This is not jazz. These are sick people.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Ladies and gentlemen, please don't associate me with any of this. This is not jazz. These are sick people. After angry altercations at a reunion gig (4 March 1955), as quoted in Myself When I Am Real : The Life and Music of Charles Mingus (2001) by Gene Santoro; Bud Powell was reportedly drunk, smashed the keyboard and walked off stage, and Charlie Parker stood at the microphone calling: "Bud Powell, Bud Powell." A week later Parker was dead of cirrhosis of the liver.

„I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Now, whether there is feeling or not depends upon what your environment or your association is or whatever you may have in common with the player. If you feel empathy for his personal outlook, you naturally feel him musically more than some other environmental and musical opposite who is, in a way. beyond you. I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around. But there is no need to compare composers. If you like Beethoven, Bach or Brahms, that's okay. They were all pencil composers. I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer. I thought I was, although no one's mentioned that. I mean critics or musicians. Now, what I'm getting at is that I know I'm a composer. I marvel at composition, at people who are able to take diatonic scales, chromatics, 12-tone scales, or even quarter-tone scales. I admire anyone who can come up with something original. But not originality alone, because there can be originality in stupidity, with no musical description of any emotion or any beauty the man has seen, or any kind of life he has lived.

„What do you think happens to a composer who is sincere and loves to write and has to wait thirty years to have someone play a piece of his music?“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: What do you think happens to a composer who is sincere and loves to write and has to wait thirty years to have someone play a piece of his music? Had I been born in a different country or had I been born white, I am sure I would have expressed my ideas long ago. Maybe they wouldn't have been as good because when people are born free — I can't imagine it, but I've got a feeling that if it's so easy for you — the struggle and the initiative are not as strong as they are for a person who has to struggle and therefore has more to say. As quoted in Setting the Tempo : Fifty Years of Great Jazz Liner Notes (1996) by Tom Piazza. p. 339

„I admire anyone who can come up with something original. But not originality alone, because there can be originality in stupidity, with no musical description of any emotion or any beauty the man has seen, or any kind of life he has lived.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: Now, whether there is feeling or not depends upon what your environment or your association is or whatever you may have in common with the player. If you feel empathy for his personal outlook, you naturally feel him musically more than some other environmental and musical opposite who is, in a way. beyond you. I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around. But there is no need to compare composers. If you like Beethoven, Bach or Brahms, that's okay. They were all pencil composers. I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer. I thought I was, although no one's mentioned that. I mean critics or musicians. Now, what I'm getting at is that I know I'm a composer. I marvel at composition, at people who are able to take diatonic scales, chromatics, 12-tone scales, or even quarter-tone scales. I admire anyone who can come up with something original. But not originality alone, because there can be originality in stupidity, with no musical description of any emotion or any beauty the man has seen, or any kind of life he has lived.

„Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.“

—  Charles Mingus
Context: My son's a painter. All through school his teachers tell him he's a genius. I tell him to paint me an apple that looks like and apple before he paints me one that doesn't. Go where you can go, but start from someplace recognizable. Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. Statement in Mainliner (July 1977), as quoted in Creativity and the writing process (1982) by Olivia Bertagnolli, p. 182; also partly quoted in Survival Skills for Managers (1981) by Marlene Wilson, p. 19 Variant: Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple. As quoted in The Evaluation and Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (1999) by Nils R. Varney and Richard J. Roberts, p. 303

„In my music, I'm trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it's difficult is because I'm changing all the time.“

—  Charles Mingus
Statement to Nat Hentoff , as quoted in California Rock, California Sound : The Music of Los Angeles and Southern California (1979) by Anthony Fawcett, p. 56; also in “Jazz : Beyond Time and Nations” in The Nat Hentoff Reader (2001), Part 2 : The Passion of Creation, p. 99

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