Happy birthday, Charles Mingus!

You taught me how to read.

And, judging by an item I saw in the ‘More Than a Fakebook’ publication that was the corporeal vector through which this dubious posthumous pedagogy was accomplished — in many a late night, technically-illegally commandeered UCSC music building piano room — you also taught a tuxedo cat how to use a human toilet.

My tuxedo cat is currently choking down 1/4 pill of cat Valium just to get through the day, so, once again, Maestro Mingus wins the day.

Mingus. As one of my other musical heroes, Graham Connah, memorably pointed out in (online) print some years ago, the jazz world at large is still struggling to catch up with and assimilate the advanced and bottomless ensemble practices that Mingus had firmly established by the early 60s. To say nothing of the seemingly unfussy way he understood and rejected the false binary of ‘earthy vs intellectual.’

There is no musician who has meant more to me in terms of clarifying my own musical priorities and preoccupations. Like a great critic, even the areas in which I push back against or reject his concepts serve to illuminate.

To, much too late, cut through all the earlier impromptu-yet-long winded verbiage, when I was a teenager, I thought that Goodbye Porkpie Hat was the most beautiful tune ever written & recorded. and that the 1964 Mingus Group w Dolphy/Byard/Richmond/Jordan/Coles was the best band that ever lived. As opposed to most everything else I thought at that point in my life, I am pretty sure that I still stand by these assessments.

Thank you, Maestro Mingus. And, for the love of god, please apologize to Jimmy Knepper!