Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus
University of California Press
Gabbard’s biography of jazz bassist-composer Charles Mingus might leave you concluding he was even crazier than you’d heard. Gabbard seems to be making the point that much of Mingus’ reputation comes from his autobiography Beneath the Underdog, more properly read, says Gabbard, as his attempt at self-definition. The book is part straight-up bio, part musical exegesis, part psychological portrait. What particularly struck me was Gabbard’s observation that Mingus played with pretty much everybody who was anybody in 20th century jazz, from Ellington to Ornette Coleman, a “near omnipresence in jazz history.” Mingus was as much witness as participant.