While studying classical bass, he developed a striking technical facility. Turning to jazz, he worked in New York with leading musicians, spending time in bands led by Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. Through the late 40s and into the following decade he was active with many rising bop musicians, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. In 1950, a spell with a trio led by Red Norvo and including Tal Farlow brought him to the attention of many and in 1953 he was briefly in the band of Duke Ellington, recording Money Jungle with him in a trio rounded out by Max Roach. Throughout these years, Mingus was constantly composing and established his reputation in this regard. To his composing he brought many musical concepts, ranging from the classical form to most aspects of jazz, traditional and modern. Musicians of all kinds readily worked with him, among them Eric Dolphy. Mingus' musical work was always deeply affected by the hardships and racial slurs endured by himself and others, which he observed constantly and painfully. They were recounted (often at the expense of his music) in his autobiography, Beneath The Underdog. Mingus' volatile manner alienated many, although his accomplishments were such that few stayed away for long. His final years were plagued by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (the condition Stephen Hawking suffers from) along with ever-present financial problems, but his enthusiasm for his music never wavered.
Followers: Mingus Dynasty, Jack Bruce, Phil Lesh, Dave Holland, Danny Thompson
Influenced By: Duke Ellington...