Richard Williams

A True Composer

Mingus, A Critical Biography


Quartet 308pp £13.95 order from our bookshop

For some readers, perhaps the name of Charles Mingus will shake free a chain of recollection undisturbed in twenty years: coffee bars, beatniks, baggy sweaters, leather sandals, the solemnised union of jazz and poetry, a world whose high priests included the three MS, Miles and Monk and Mingus.

Jazz has often been pressed into service as a symbol for non-conformist values. The Jazz Age, obviously, was the first such occasion; the arrival of the Beat Generation was another; as it happens, another minor eruption is taking place even now among the present set of bohemian youth, whose avant-garde is discovering for itself that piquant combination of primitive origins and intellectual illegitimacy, emotional generosity and technical rigour.

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