Beneath the Underdog

By Charles Mingus,

Book cover of Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus

Book description

Bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, is one of the essential composers in the history of jazz, and Beneath the Underdog, his celebrated, wild, funny, demonic, anguished, shocking and profoundly moving memoir, is the greatest autobiography ever written by a jazz musician.

It tells of his God-haunted…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Beneath the Underdog as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Mingus reveals a life so foreign to my own upbringing—uninhibited, dangerous, angry, crude, at once vulnerable and invulnerable—that I was shocked by this book as a teenage jazz head.

I found his autobiography intimidating, much the way his music shoved me out of my comfort zone. In Mingus’s prose, there is no mistaking the cadences, dissonance, and strange beauty that characterize his formidable body of musical work.

I’ve never bought into the trope that one has to suffer for one’s art but I believed Mingus when he said, “I'm trying to play the truth of what I am."

From Rich's list on books by musicians, for musicians.

You might reasonably expect the notorious yet absorbing autobiography of celebrated jazz bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus to contain a series of names, facts, dates, album titles, compositions, and chronologies. And, indeed, some insight into Mingus’s vibrant music and highly creative process. What you’ll discover, however, is a book that is part visceral, self-mythologising confession memoir and part Dionysian fantasy autofiction. Mingus’s unconventional self-portrait is a spiralling work of impassioned creative writing that, despite its often tiresome literary, personal, and, especially, sexual excesses, somehow manages to say more about the man, his mind, and his times than many a…

From Philip's list on jazz (and a whole lot more).

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