Along with Miles Davis‘s Kind of Blue and John Coltrane‘s A Love Supreme, is there a finer “gateway drug” to the world of jazz than Charles Mingus’ massively addictive, Mingus Ah Um? In terms of sheer buoyancy, how many pieces of music rival that of Ah Um’s lead-off track, Better Git It In Your Soul? The answer to both questions, in my opinion? Not fucking many.
Throughout his all-too-brief 57 years as a composer, conductor and activist, Charles Mingus fell into that category of life commonly defined as “larger than.” You can read about it in the absolutely essential Mingus autobiography, Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus, a book that’s as entertaining as it is sorta, maybe exaggerated.
My random discovery of today, though, serves up another fascinating look at the jazz great. Fresh to YouTube, and otherwise hard to find, it’s Thomas Reichman’s 1968 documentary, Mingus: Charlie Mingus. Part I follows, with links to the rest below: