Mingus' Legend Lives On

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

Charles Mingus is considered one of the most influential musical talents of the twentieth century, and very fitting to commemorate Black History Month. Not only did Mingus create albums and score masterpieces but also was a genius playing the piano and bass. Having toured with the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis and Kid Ory he gained ample musical experiences at the start of his career.

Born in 1922 he gained that perfect ear for music at the young age of 8 where he 'heard Duke Ellington over the radio' and was also largely influenced by his church choir. Settling in New York City in the 50's he created his own publishing and recording company to allow his musical talents to flourish. Keen on enabling youth to have the opportunities he did, Mingus founded "The Jazz Workshop" to educate youth on composing the perfect pieces of music.

Recording over 100 albums and writing over 300 scores, some of his most extraordinary pieces of works included; Jazz Fusion, Mingus Dynasty, Tijuana Moods and The Clown. Touring around the world to showcase his natural talents and being awarded the Slee Chair of Music in 1971, he certainly shows his immense musical talent. After his death in 1979 from Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis, a rare nerve disease, he continued to remain at the forefront of jazz music in America and is certainly deemed a legend.

Today his musical talents are not unheard of. Sue Mingus, his widow, continually ensures the beautifully sounds he orchestrated are showcased for all. New York City is eager to hear the likes of the Mingus Big Band and The Mingus Orchestra this month in remembrance of such a legend.

Check out any one of the events, you will surely be swept away in a world of perfect jazz blitz.

Mingus Big Band: The Mingus Big Band is a full-scale jazz orchestra who continually keeps Mingus' legend alive putting their heart and soul into every concert.

The Jazz Standard: (East 27th Street, NYC) Dates: February 13th & 25th, Contact Information: (212) 576.2232 116

St. Bartholomew's Church: (325 Park Avenue, NYC) Dates: February 17-19th, Contact Information: (212) 378.0222

The Mingus Orchestra: The Mingus Orchestra is a 10-member orchestra that showcases Mingus' true talents.

The Jazz Standard: Dates: February 6th & 20th

St. Bartholomew's Church: Date: February 19th

Fourth Annual Charles Mingus Festival and High School Competition: This event includes free clinics and workshops for students along with two days of high school band competitions from the country. A $33,000 scholarship will be awarded to the best soloist. 

Manhattan School of Music: (120 Claremont Avenue, NYC) Dates: February 17-20th, Contact Information: (212) 749.2802

Melaina is from a small town in Ontario, Canada and as an avid environmentalist with a passion for focusing on healthy living. Having traveled the world and written about it every step of the way, she one day hopes to develop unique environmental educational programs for kids. 

Photo: deSingel International Arts Campus 

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