Charles Mingus Day

April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979

Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk

Double bassist, pianist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus was born April 22, 1922 in Nogales, Arizona, but was raised in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

The cello was his first love, but pragmatism had him switch to the bass where he was early recognized as a prodigy.

He cut his teeth as a sideman for Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Howard McGee, and even his musical idol Duke Ellington.

With the founding of his Jazz Workshop in New York, he found his voice, one of the most distinctive in the history of the music.

Pepper Adams, Jaki Byard, Booker Ervin, John Handy, Jimmy Knepper, Charles McPherson, Horace Parlan, Dannie Richmond, Mal Waldron, Jackie McLean, J. R. Monterose, Ted Curson and Eric Dolphy, and others joined him in his prodigious output at various times.

He toured the West Coast with Louis Armstrong in 1943 and was performing with Lionel Hampton’s band by the end of the decade. He would first get an opportunity to record some of his own music with Hampton.

Mingus went on to co-found Debut Records with Max Roach in 1952, allowing him complete artistic control over the recording process.

Over the next two decades, Mingus’ talent and creativity helped him become one of the most renowned bassists, composers, and bandleaders in the history of jazz.

Filmed in Norway on April 12, 1964.


Charles Mingus, bass
Eric Dolphy, sax, bass clarinet and flute
Clifford Jordan, tenor sax
Jaki Byard, piano
Dannie Richmond, drums
Johnny Coles, trumpet