Charles Mingus was a bigger-than-life controversial figure whose music was bold, adventurous and always right on. He was a true innovator, bassist extraordinaire, pianist and one of the greatest jazz composers of the twentieth century. This song opens with lyrics I wrote to his composition “Good-bye Pork Pie Hat” and features the fine bass work of Matt Heredia and a lush vocal lead by Aubrey Johnson.
A Tribute to Charles Mingus
When Charlie plucked the “A” string
All the room began to buzz.
His fingers up and down and sliding,
Striking stellar sounds.
The magic in the moment,
Came when Mingus played his bass so tenderly,
Listen and you’ll hear him saying,
“Keep on playing; make the music swing until the daybreak”
Morning comes and Charlie sleeps,
Beneath the Underdog
Fables of Faubus could never be told,
When Arkansas was bleak.
That didn’t stop him from telling the tale,
Back in Nineteen fifty-nine, Hora Decubitis,
Segregation doomed, Hear a Bird Call in the morning.
Peggy’s Blue Skylight, Good-bye Pork Pie Hat and love.
I X Love, I X Love.
Ah Um, Jelly Roll in red,
Agony, ecstasy, lyrical strife,
Dark death in black and blue.
Playing his bass with indelible force,
Mingustino harmonies, Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul
Pussy Cat Dues.
Pithecanthropus Erectus, Self Portrait in Three Colors,
Goodbye Porkpie Hat and love, IX Love, IX Love.
Notes: Beneath the Underdog is the title of his musical autobiography. Fables
of Faubus is a piece from the Ah Um album. Mingus wanted to record Fables
of Faubus, (Faubus Fables) which contained lyrics about the Arkansas
Governor Faubus’s segregationist views; however Columbia Records found
them to be too controversial and would only let him release the instrumental
rendition. Mingus went on to record a version on his own. ( See youTube
CHARLES MINGUS, Original Faubus Fables ) Mingus, the Latinist, created
composition titles using words like Pithecanthropus Erectus, referring to the
primitive ape like facial profile of the “Java Man”, and Hora Decubitis meaning
“at bedtime”. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is the alternative title for Theme for Lester
Young. I’ve written lyrics to this composition and it serves as the introduction
to Mingustino. Theme for Lester Young was first sketched out at the Half Note
in New York, the night Mingus learned that Lester Young had died.