Mingus – 1968

Charles Mingus


An unusual and valuable film featuring Charles Mingus at a turning point in his life

Bassist-bandleader-composer Charles Mingus was an innovative musician whose music always reflected his emotional and sometimes erratic personality.

By 1966 he could look back on 15 years of major accomplishments, but his depression and conflicts with the music world resulted in him entering a slump and soon dropping out of the music scene for a few years.

This fascinating film, made by a student from NYU as a graduate thesis, features some music (with Mingus leading a quintet with trumpeter Lonnie Hillyer, tenor-saxophonist John Gilmore, altoist Charles McPherson, pianist Walter Bishop and drummer Dannie Richmond) but also a lot of philosophical talking by the bassist.

In its dramatic conclusion, due to Mingus had a dispute with his landlord (he is seen shooting a hole in the ceiling of his apartment), he is evicted and his possessions put on the sidewalk before they are hauled away.

Certainly a unique film, this documentary (which was released in 1968) is a must for those seeking to understand the complex world of Charles Mingus.

-Scott Yanow

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