Charles Mingus

1922 - 1979

American

Biography

Charles Mingus was an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer, and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock.

Mingus was born April 22 1922 in Nogales, Arizona. He began to study the cello before switching to the bass. He began his professional career in 1940, playing bass with Lee Young, and he toured with Louis Armstrong's big band the following year. In 1942 he played bass with Barney Bigard's ensemble which featured retired trombonist Kid Ory. The next year he began studying symphonic form and technique with Herman Rheinschagen. He toured with Lionel Hampton's big band beginning in 1946 and in 1950 gained national attention as a member of Red Norvo's trio. He founded the Jazz Workshop in 1955 and in 1964 started the record company Charles Mingus Enterprises. His autobiography Beneath the Underdog was published in 1972. Mingus died in 1979.

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