TABLE OF CONTENTS

SPIN CYCLE

Charles Mingus

CHARLES MINGUS probably didn’t believe that old saw about less being more. To him less was less, more was more, and the only reason you might want people to think otherwise was because you were endeavoring to pull the wool over their eyes or sell them something. As an African-American born in the racially charged America of the ’20s (Mingus would have turned seventy-five this year), the late bassist, composer, and band leader had little stomach for ideas that didn’t add up, a fact that came through in song titles like “Fables of Faubus,” “Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul,” “The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife (Are Some Jive-Ass Slippers)” or “All the Things You Could Be (if Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother).”

As a result, Mingus spent much of his life in frustration. The bassist’s compositions are nothing if not the products of a voracious sensibility that desired more of everything—more notes,

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.