A blisteringly powerful self-portrait of ‘The Angry Man of Jazz’, contemporary of jazz genius Miles Davis
Bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, is one of the essential composers in the history of jazz, and Beneath the Underdog, his celebrated, wild, funny, demonic, anguished, shocking and profoundly moving memoir, is the greatest autobiography ever written by a jazz musician.
It tells of his God-haunted childhood in Watts during the 1920s and 1930s; his outcast adolescent years; his apprenticeship, not only with jazzmen but also with pimps, hookers, junkies, and hoodlums; and his golden years in New York City with such legendary figures as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. Here is Mingus in his own words, from shabby roadhouses to fabulous estates, from the psychiatric wards of Bellevue to worlds of mysticism and solitude, but for all his travels never straying too far, always returning to music.
“A pure genius”
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“A fascinating insight into Mingus’ mind - unforgettable”
“The purest of dynamite”
“There has never been an autobiography like Beneath the Underdog. A riveting work of highly subjective reminiscences and tortured self-analysis”
“A shocking and brilliant book”
Charles Mingus was born in Arizona in 1922. He settled in New York in the 1950s, where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of his time, such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington. Mingus toured extensively throughout the world, including Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States. He died in 1979. Both New York City and Washington, D.C., honoured him posthumously with a ‘Charles Mingus Day’.