( 1922-1979 )
Charles Mingus had a reputation as a virtuoso bass player that is matched by his status as a great composer of orchestral jazz. Raised in Watts, California, his earliest influences came from the church and from hearing Duke Ellington on the radio as a child. A leader of the avant-garde, he recorded over 100 albums and wrote more than 300 musical scores. In 1989, the performance of his masterwork, Epitaph, was ranked as one of the most memorable jazz events of the decade.