Deep Dive: Charles Mingus, SOMETHING LIKE A BIRD
Today we celebrate the birthday of the late, great jazz legend Charles Mingus, who – despite having died from complications of ALS in 1979 – continues to influence new musicians to this day, thanks to the tremendous body of work he left behind. In honor of this date, we thought we’d spotlight an album that actually came out after his death and which doesn’t actually feature his playing at all, but he nonetheless remains the heart and soul of every moment held within its grooves.
Produced by Ilhan Mimaroglu and Raymond Silva, SOMETHING LIKE A BIRD contains the last sessions of Mingus’s own work that he attended, but the progression of the disease that would ultimately take his life had reached a point where he could no longer play and left him confined to a wheelchair. That said, the two tracks (or three, depending on how you want to look at it), “Something Like a Bird, Parts One and Two” and the appropriately-titled “Farewell Farewell,” were both written by Mingus, and he was also credited as the album’s director, so whether he played on it or not, you know it was still all done to his specifications.
Although SOMETHING LIKE A BIRD wasn’t deemed a stone-cold classic by critics, it was nonetheless admired as an example of a musician who refused to stop creating music until he stopped breathing. While that day came all too soon for Charles Mingus, his legacy remains strong even now.
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