Saturday, June 19, 2010

Charles Mingus defies bomb threat

Charles Mingus, New Haven, Connecticut, 1972:

“Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music. If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’”
The occasion was a concert at Yale University to raise funds for a department of African-American music. When a bomb threat came in, Mingus alone refused to leave the theater and played Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” one of his favorite pieces for solo bass, as Ellington (and everyone else) stood outside the open doors. Quoted in Claudia Roth Pierpont’s May 17, 2010 New Yorker essay on Ellington and race.

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