Cover image for Mingus/Mingus : two memoirs
Mingus/Mingus : two memoirs
Coleman, Janet, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : Creative Arts Book Co., 1989.
Physical Description:
164 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 19 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML418.M45 C6 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Charles Mingus was one of the greatest talents in the jazz world, as a bassist, bandleader, and composer. Mingus comes to life again through these two memoirs written by two of his friends. "This book is a breezy but heartfelt tribute to an arascible talent, a collection as passionate and unruly as its subject...funny, respectful and revealing." - The New York Times Book Review

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Freelance writer Coleman and prolific author Young ( Sitting Pretty , etc.), both devotees of Charles Mingus (1922-1979), here present an unconventional, nonchronological, anecdotal, impressionistic account of the personality and contributions of the great jazz bassist and composer. They met him in 1960 when they were students at the University of Michigan, and for the next 20 years, until Mingus died in Mexico, their lives and his were inextricably joined. Captivated by the violent musician--``the Marlon Brando and the Laurence Olivier of Jazz''--whose over-indulgence and self-destruction were balanced by a gentle generosity, Coleman and Young reveal a vibrant, wonderfully complex man who expanded traditional jazz forms, encouraged improvisation, established the first jazz musicians' cooperative and was an impassioned, outspoken foe of racism. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Mingus was a historically important bass virtuoso, an extraordinarily gifted composer, a genius at organizing musicial groups and concepts, and an outrageous, violent, unpredictable, temperamental human being. His autobiography, Beneath the Underdog (1970), is a wild tale of music, sex, politics, fantasies, and dreams that play havoc with reality; it is not intended to provide easy access to the man himself. The authors of the two memoirs constituting this slender volume cannot be described as jazz scholars or musicians and both seem improbable Mingus associates. Coleman, an upper-middle-class white Jewish woman, and Young, a talented young African American, were both English majors when they met the brawling, shouting, cussing, threatening jazz musician in the 1960s. They managed to maintain their relationships with Mingus for about two decades, however, and were exposed to sides of Mingus not often shown to the public. They have written about him with much love and tenderness, providing extensive and personal insights into one of the least-understood major figures of modern jazz. The authors tell as much about themselves and their times as they do about Mingus, not attempting to write jazz history. But for all their limitations, these memoirs make fascinating reading about a mysterious and perplexing figure. -C. M. Weisenberg, University of California, Los Angeles