Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Bring Us Mingus 

Fans of the late jazzman will find an upcoming Webster University concert to their liking

Everyone has a favorite jazz giant. Your guy might be Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk or any number of others from a bygone era when musicians from another planet walked the earth.

One of the giants of the bass, in size as well as in talent, was Charles Mingus. The double-bass-sized musician, songwriter and bandleader was known for his skills, his feel for jazz and for the eccentrically titled songs he composed.

In Davis' autobiography, Mingus is described as a true iconoclast who welcomed a good philosophical argument. His unique character was expressed in songs with titles like "Fables of Faubus," "Pithecanthropus Erectus," "Tonight at Noon," "E's Flat, Ah's Flat Too," "Eat That Chicken," "Low and Behold," and "Zootcase." His "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" is bluesy jazz at its saddest and sweetest.

The bassist died in 1979, but his wife, Sue Mingus, has maintained two ensembles dedicated to his songs and style, the Mingus Big Band and the Mingus Orchestra. (The former will perform at Washington University in October.)

Also known for a great sense of humor, Mingus was apparently able to toilet-train his cat. The official Web site, www.mingusmingusmingus.com, contains hilarious instructions for duplicating this feat, written by the musician in 1972. He allegedly even taught his cat, Nightlife, to flush.

The opening concert of the Monday Night Jazz Series at Webster University features the school's jazz faculty performing a tribute to the late, great musician. Michael Parkinson and Randall Holmes on trumpet; Paul DeMarinis on saxophone; James Martin and Zach Danner on trombone; Kim Portnoy and CarolBeth True on piano; Kevin Gianino on drums; Steve Schenkel, Dan Rubright, Tom Byrne and Rob Block on guitar; and Dan Eubanks and Jay Hungerford on bass will perform an all-Mingus concert, which will include "Better Git It in Your Soul," "Fables of Faubus," "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" and "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat." For 2 bucks, it really can't be beat.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of...

Latest in Night & Day

More by Byron Kerman

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2022 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation