Charles Mingus presents Charles Mingus (1960)

Track selection: “Original Faubus Fables” >  (Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics)

Artists

Ted Curson (tp) Eric Dolphy (as, bcl) Charles Mingus (b, vo) Dannie Ritchmond (d, vo)  Recorded Nola’s Penthouse Sound Studios, NYC, October 20, 1960

Music

Mingus’s record companies, apparently, refused to release Faubus as Mingus wanted, complete with its diatribe against Arkansaw Democrat Governor Faubus, of Little Rock imfamy. The short-lived independent label Candid was his first opportunity to feature the full version. Mild by modern rap standards, Mingus shares his views of the Governor but does not entreat his followers to “shoot the pigs”. The object of his ire may be misplaced as regards Faubus, some scholars argue. From this distance, it doesn’t look good for him but I’ll let others be the judge.

Faubus Fables was a  standard item in Mingus’s repertoire, and as much of cultural as musical interest. More controversial to me than the politics is his opening address, telling off the audience. “No applause please, keep it down, no clinking of ice in your glasses, you got it covered?” It’s one thing to tell off politicians, performers do that all the time today, quite another to tell off your audience.  Mingus wanted more than acceptance as an entertainer: he wanted the respect due to an artist.

By all accounts a difficult man, prone to assaulting his fellow musicians, or anyone nearby he disagreed with, outspoken to a fault, he remains one of the giant figures in Modern Jazz, and so I give him a little space to tell Fables of Faubus the way he wanted.

(My last post from France, business as usual next week, Londonjazzcollector returns to err…London, hopefully to a full post box of new records)

Vinyl: original US Candid 8005 mono

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