My Jazz Yin and Yang

This morning the Friends of Charles Mingus” Facebook group showed this photo taken at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival of a relaxing Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy. Those two musicians represent for me the yin and yang of jazz.

After trying for awhile to get a handle on jazz, Mingus’s band at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival was the first band to play jazz that went straight through my ears to my heart.

Ever since I have been a Mingus fan. Do I own all of Mingus’s albums? No. But I sure do own a lot of them.

I also own plenty of multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy’s albums. His complete “At The Five Spot” albums are among my favorites. What a band! Dolphy with Ed Blackwell (drums), Richard Davis (bass), Booker Little (trumpet), and Mal Waldron (piano).

But Dolphy’s music, with exceptions, hits my head and not my heart. If that’s a problem it’s my problem, not Dolphy’s. So I keep listening. Not just to Dolphy on his own albums, but to Dolphy on other musicians’ albums. Mingus and John Coltrane, for example.

My yin/yang with Dolphy and Mingus is an apt description of my music listening in general. Sometimes an artist or a song grabs my attention in an instant. Other times taking hold takes time.

And still other times, like yesterday afternoon while eating frozen custard at a Culver’s in St. Petersburg, FL, I’ll hear music and think, “Who listens to this music? This is awful,” knowing full well today’s awful music can become tomorrow’s interesting discovery.

That’s how my music learning goes.

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