Charles Mingus

I won0ˆ9t pretend to be a jazz aficionado, and I will try to avoid the self-righteous tone of so many music critics. I know very little about jazz music, especially the music theory behind the genre. But I do like Charles Mingus.

I started listening to jazz my senior year of high school. Whenever I was in my car, I would listen to NPR (while most of the people in my high school blasted DMX and Dr. Dre). During the afternoon and late evening, NPR played jazz. At first, listening to jazz was a ploy to posture myself as a cultured intellectual, aloof from the pedestrian drivel of TRL. I was like Finch from American Pie.

But "Love Me or Leave Me" by Nina Simone was the song that got me hooked. It was emotionally stirring rather than just pleasant background music. When I first heard the song, it was stuck in my head for days. Thanks to Napster, I could have plenty of jazz for the right price.

When I got to college, people who knew something about jazz guided me in expanding my selection. By people, I mean Evan and Jen, who were neighbors in my dorm. Jen showed me Miles Davis. If I0ˆ9m in the right mood, which only comes along occasionally, Miles Davis can be incredible. Evan showed me Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus. I could listen to them no matter how I feel.

"Take Five", "Moanin'" and "Solo Dancer" have been in constant rotation on my playlist ever since. The other week, I actually purchased Mingus0ˆ9 Black Saint and the Sinner Lady CD and (here0ˆ9s the point of the post), it0ˆ9s really, really good.

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