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Charles Mingus

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Los Angeles, United States (1922 – 1979)

Charles Mingus (22nd April 1922 – 5th January 1979) was an American bassist, composer, bandleader, and occasional pianist from Los Angeles. He was also known for his activism against racial injustice.

Mingus’ legacy is notable: he is ranked among the finest composers and performers in jazz, and recorded many highly regarded albums. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. His songs - though melodic and distinctive - are not often recorded by later musicians, due in part to their unconventional nature. Mingus was also influential and creative as a bandleader, recruiting talented and sometimes little-known artists whom he assembled into unconventional and revealing configurations.

Nearly as well known as his ambitious music was Mingus’ often fearsome temperament, which earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz”. His refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many onstage explosions, though it has been argued that his temper also grew from a need to vent frustration. Ironically, a perfect show could irritate him by closing this outlet.

Mingus was prone to depression. He tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.

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