top 10 Charles Mingus tunes
don't fuck with 10 Charles Mingus tunes

Charles Mingus is arguably the greatest of the jazzers. His tough bass, his stance, his vision never fades with time.

top 10 Charles Mingus tunes
don't fuck with 10 Charles Mingus tunes
He could be a brutal bass player but also a visionary composer and civil rights activist. with moments that totally take off.

If you ever loved The Birthday Party, The Specials, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, and any of the free spirits in music then check this list out…

Free jazz, classical gospel and world music flavours all combine into a music that is like no other. Pure.

He was also the punk rocker of the jazz world. His fiercely ambitious music brook no compromise which was guarded by his fearsome temperament, all of which earned him the nickname “The Angry Man of Jazz” that saw him angry at lesser talents and anyone who got in his way.

He also had some great song titles…

1. ‘Fables Of Faubus’
8 minutes of bliss – the two hooks that dominate the track will never, ever leave you; they have been humming round my mind for decades. The piece is apolitical work – about Faubus a US state governor who was against racial integration in the land of the free…

2. ‘Haitian Fight Song’
The tough bass at the intro is pure Mingus. Arguably one of the best bass lines ever, it’s total punk rock in its attitude but retains a stealth and slinkiness that runs through the piece. The bass breakdown in the middle is Primus a half century early.

3. ‘Better Get It In Yo’ Soul’
Just for that great brass hookline that runs through the song – it sounds like the traffic rushing through a city. Also for the shouting in the background, music that is played live and with shouting in it always rules.

4. ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’
Sweating and sultry. Pure soulful. A bluesy song about a friend’s trademark hat.

5. ‘Solo Dancer’
You know the way the theme music to ‘Taxi Driver’ oozes with a hot nighttime steamy melancholy – Mingus was on that trip early as well.

6. ‘Scenes In The City’
Great talk over about the city, and also some fab bowing of the bass and some fractured percussion.

7. ‘Pithecanthropus Erectus’
Just for the intro that creeps up on you. If you ever loved Kerouac and the beats listening to this music is like reading those books- the rush of ideas and the promise and heartbreak of post war America. The hookline in this is also superb. There is a great freak out bit as well.

8. ‘i X Love’
From his classic ‘Black Saint and the Sinner Lady’ album. Considered his best work, the album was conceived as a ballet and you you feel this in its scope and vision that never loses its Mingus DNA.

9. ‘Hora Decubitus’
From the same ‘Black Saint…’ album grooving in on a great bass run and then some really genius squelching brass…

great video for it here…

10. ‘Summertime’
Great, great version of the Gershwin classic. A total groove. Gives clues to the roots and scopes of Mingus.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. […] httpss:// In learning more about Jazz, here are some performances from Mingus, the more obscure jazz musicians. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. […]

  2. just buy the album/cd “Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus”
    all tracks are sublime not a filler on there. When I was 19/20 I asked my dad to buy me some Jazz for my birthday as I wanted to try and understand the music which at that time I didnt get. He gave me an Art Blakey record and the Mingus one. At first it didnt do a lot so I kept listening for a week, by the seventh day I was hooked. Now that album is one of my all time faves. If you dont like that music, you got no wit or soul.

  3. thanks for this John, Mingus is simply genius. i remember emerging from a long neutered hibernation and taking myself to Manchester’s then flourishing jazz record shops and finding an original vinyl copy of Let My Children Hear Music for buttons – it is still one of my absolute favourite records of all time, it continues to blow me away twenty years later, and forty-odd years after it was recorded. also, for anyone who hasn’t read it, get yourselves a copy of his amazing autobiography, Beneath The Underdog. i guess you’d call it post-modern, it’s written by Charles’s ego. a singular lesson in history and imagination x

  4. Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

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  11. Great post. I love this guy’s music. I think I X Love and Hora Decubitis are on Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus rather than Black Saint… Mingusx5 is my favourite album as it’s all pure gold. The version of Haitian Fight Song (II B.S) kicks ass.


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