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January 09, 1979 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-09

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 9, 1979-Page 7

Jazz titan Mingus dead

By R.J. SMITH
with wire reports
The man who made, the bass as
creative and expressive an instrumen-
tal voice as any in jazz, the man who
was perhaps both the consumate
teacher and eccentric of Afro-
American music is now dead, at the age
of 56.
According to a family spokesperson,
jazz giant Charles Mingus died in
Mexico City last Saturday from a heart
attack preceeded by a long bout with a
degenerative muscular condition
known as Lou Gehrig's condition.
At his request, his wife, Susan, took
his ashes to the Himalayas and %cat-
tered them in the Ganges, Mingus'
agent said in New York yesterday. A
memorial service will be held at a later
date in New York.
ALTHOUGH HE continued to work
until when he died, Mingus had nearly
become a complete recluse in recent
years, largely because of his worsening
illness.
In the last year he had worked on a
number of projects, including a series
of pastoral tone poems which Joni Mit-
chell is adding words to, a piece written
for the Duke Ellington orchestra com-
missioned by Eclipse Jazz, and his
album Cumbia and Jazz Fusion.
Mingus leaves behind a truly
monumental and consistent body of
music, although in his later years he of-
ten complained to record companies
that the vast body of his work had been
put out of pressing for unfair reasons.
Today, much of his musical legacy is
impossible to find in record stores.
The oft-reported reason for the
blacklisting was Mingus' outspoken-
ness. Since the begining of his career,
he had gained a reputation for being
Diversit
(Continued from Page 6)
emcee for the festival, filled in with in-
troductory comments and remarks off
the top of his head. It's true that San-
ders didn't seem to fit in very well, that
his comments were sometimes inane
and far from funny, and that he lost his
cool and became a little embarassing
x with self-effacement toward the end of
the Festival. There was really no ex-
cuse, though, for some of the crowd to
behave rudely toward Sanders who was
doing his best in an unfamiliar situation
as a favor to his friends at the Ark.
THE FINAL ACT of both afternoon
and evening performances was David
Bromberg with his dazzling backup
man, Dick Fegy. Between the two of
them, they kicked out some of the most
impressive instrumentals ever heard
on any folk music stage. Bromberg was
a tour de force on the guitar, and Fegy,
as well as being the best fiddler and
mandolin player of the day, didn't
slouch on the guitar either. The two of
them have worked out some intricate
and interesting harmonies on the
strings, and, during both performan-
ces, they switched instruments alter-
nately between verses to very in-
teresting effect.

one of the most candid jazz musicians,
railing-through his music and to
anyone who would listen-against
racism, the music business, untalented
musicians, and conformity. He
organized benefits and festivals for
political causes; once in the late fifties,
unveiling an experimental piece of ex-
tended improvisation to a night club
audience that continued to talk, eat,
and make noise throughout the piece,
thoroughly ignoring Mingus and his
band, the bassist stopped playing and
said to the crowd "if you think what
we're doing is weird, just take a look at
yourselves."
TO THE MUSICIANS in the countless
groups he lead over the years, Mingus
was often an explosive instructor, one
who would think nothing of stopping a
piece midway through a public perfor-
mance to angrily berate a deficient
sideman, even to the point of slapping
him out of the way so that Mingus might
show him the right way to play.
"You had to keep stretching yourself
while you were with Mingus," one for-
mer sideman once said, "he just
wouldn't let you coast. Even in public
... he'd yell at you in the middle of a
solo to stop playing just licks and get in-
to yourself. Christ, he had more con-
fidence in what we were capable of than
we had."
BORN IN NOGALES, Ariz., and
raised in Los Angeles, Mingus began
studying the bass with Red Callender at
the age of 16, and had received early
training in several other instruments as
well as in composition.
His composing mastery was
awesome. Blending the orchestral den-
sity of composers such as Debussey,
Ravel, and Strauss, with that of his
lifelong idol Duke Ellington, he
seemingly could write for any com-

wV

Join the Arts staff
Q. What do the following people all have in common: Jean Wenner,
Lorne Greene, John Wayne Gacy, Olivia Newton-John, and Jeff Selbst?
A. They have all launched their careers writing for the Michigan Daily
Arts page. (Well, Jeff Selbst anyway.)
Now you too can write for the Daily, getting the chance to write for an
audience, earn a (meager) salary, get in free to concerts, plays, movies,
and receive all sorts of other freebies, and increase your understanding of
the arts.
We'll be having a meeting for all new people interested in writing for
the Arts page this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Your interest in writing is the only
essentil everything else can be learned.

JA N NEMEC'S

196

MARTYRS OF LOVE
Three humorous tales! Junior clerk rejected in love finds comfort from his
adding machine; the soap opera fantasies of a maid; the adventures of Rudolf
the Orphan, with the geriatic set. "This is the Czech equivalent of the kinkiest,
most eclectic new American cinema-a nearly silent movie in the golden 20's
manner, a patchwork of sight gags to Bach, soft rock and jazz."-Playboy.
Short: S.F. to L.A. Richard Beveridge. 12 hours and 4000 frames of Pacific
Coast Highway 1.
WED: EASY LIVING & A SHORT

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
Charles Mingus

bination of musicians, penning coun-
tless works from brief songs to lengthy
ballets.
S"I am three," Mingus wrote in his
autobiography. "One man stands
forever in the middle, unconcerned,
unmoved, watching, waiting to be
allowed to express what he sees to the
other two. The second man is like a
frigtened animal that attacks for fear of
being attacked.
* "THEN THERE'S an over-loving
gentle person who lets people into the
uttermost sacred temple of his being
and he'll take insults and be trusting
and sign contracts without reading

them and get talked down to working
cheap or for nothing, and when he
realizes what's been done to him he
feels like killing and destroying
everything around him including him-
self for being so stupid. But he
can't-he goes back inside himself."
He would go back inside himself, and
he would write some of the richest,
most beautiful music, sounds that were
both lovely and terribly unsettling. And
now he will do it no more.
As funny as any of the humor that
streamed from his compositions is the
thought that he could ever be replaced.

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 & 9:O5

OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50

ANN ARBOR CIVIC THEATRE presents
The Good' Person of Siec/iw
by
Bertholt Brecht
Jan. 10-13
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
$3.00 Special Student Rate. Wed. & Thurs. only CURTAIN 8 PM

highlights Ark benefit

The lanky, bearded Bromberg admit-
ted that he "got weird roots," and
showed the audience some blues, as
well as some of the more traditional
songs which came merrily out of his
nose. While not exactly unpleasant,
Bromberg's voice has an irritating
edge which, if you love him, you say
gives him his special flavor; but if you

don't, you say a little of it goes a long
way.
The festival crowd was clearly on
Bromberg's side for both concerts, and
were on their feet after he was through.
Dick Fegy, humble backstage, Iight
have stolen the show had it not been for
the live wire presence of Bromberg as
he shook in front of the microphone,
exhorted the audience to help him out
on the sing-alongs, and skillfully con-
trolled the tempo of his performance.
THERE WERE many more
highlights than performers at the Ann
Arbor Folk Festival. It was only
because of their drawing power that
Bromberg and Blake were given top
billing and allowed to play in both
shows, but it says a lot that the big
drawing cards will freely lend their
names and talents to a benefit concert.
One can only hope that performers of
equal stature will come to the rescue
when the Ark calls for help again.
"You can only ask an artist to do a
benefit for you so often," said David
Siglin as he discussed the financial
future of the coffeehouse. Backers hope
that Saturday's concerts converted a
new group of regular listeners at the

Ark and generated a few donating
patrons. "As always, the future's un-
certain."
Responding to the insistence that
"they wouldn't let the Ark close," Siglin
smiled and shook his head, no doubt
weary of even thinking of the
possibility. "Yeah?" he said, "Just who
are 'They')"
34 Per Copy
at the paper Ch$se
Michigan Union
next to U-Cellar
665-8065

. ART
'STAFF
Arts Editors
owen gleiberman mike taylor
staff writers; May Bacarella, Bill Barbour,
Mark Dighton, Patricia Fabrizie, Diane Haith-
man, Katie Herzfeld, Steve Hook, Mark Johans-
son, Eleanora DiLiscia, Marty Levine, Rich
Loranger, Dobilas Matunlionis, Anna Nissen,
Joshua Peck, Christopher Potter, Alan Ruben-
feld, Will Rubino, Anne Sharp, Renee Schil-
cusky, Erick Smith, R.J. Smith, Tom Stephens,
Keith Tosolt, Dan Weiss, Carol Wierzbicki,
Timothy Yagle, Bruce Young, Eric Zorn.

COME JOIN US
AT
For a different kind of
learning experience
MASS MEETINGS:
TnPCdav _.Tn 16

fl.
a -
Does it really have to be this way?
Not if you do your book rush buying at Ulrich's. Ulrich's has
polite, friendly employees who will find your books for you and help you with
your other supplies. And you won't have to hock your sirloin to pay for them.
-Give Ulrich's a try this year.

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