|Charles Mingus (1922 - 1979)|
He was a piece of work whose body of work is second only to Ellington and Miles in the 100 year history of the jazz art form. He was mercurial, aggressively opinionated, prone to anger and self-mythologizing. He was also a virtuoso bass player and a genius of the first order. He merged the past and future of jazz into his work as no one else had. He blended composition and raucous improvisation into his compositions. He invited great beauty and violence to sit down side by side.
At The Nation website, Adam Shatz has a long-form essay up on Mingus that is among the best I have read on this elusive subject. He understands Mingus as a person and a musician, and weaves his insights into both sides of the man compellingly. Check it out.