Charles Mingus is known for his music but it's his writing which really sucks me in. His spoken piece, A Colloqual Dream from his album, Tijuana Moods is snappy and delicious.
I found a copy of his 1971 autobiography, Beneath The Underdog at my local library and boy oh boy, it's one stunning read.
Here's a little from the intro bit.
"I am Charles Mingus. half black man, yellow man - half yellow- not even yellow, nor white enough to pass for nothing but black and not too light enough to be called white. I claim that I am a Negro. I am Charles Mingus- to me I am nothing. I am Charles Mingus, a famed jazz musician but not famed enough to make a living in society, that is in America, my home. I cannot even support my family, honestly that is from the fame that I gain to the right of being a Negro musician.Photo from his official website, MingusMingusMingus.com.
I am a human being born in Indian territory conquered by white skins or invisible skins, transparent skins, people who killed and robbed to inherit the earth for themselves and their children.
Charles Mingus is a musician, a mongrel musician, who plays beautiful, who plays ugly, who plays lovely, who plays masculine, who plays feminine, who plays music, who plays all sounds, loud, soft, unheard sounds, sounds, sounds, sounds."