Written by Flavio Massarutto (writer) Squaz (art)
"I play what I am. I play Mingus." This comics biography tells the troubled life, the battles against racism, the brilliant music of a master who has left an indelible mark on the jazz scene and beyond. From his beginnings in Los Angeles in the 1940s to his heartbreaking end in Mexico, the story of a man of indomitable and rebellious talent who crossed styles while always remaining himself, in perpetual struggle against a society that wanted him marginalized and subordinated.
Bass player and pianist, composer and band leader, Charles Mingus is universally recognized as one of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz. An overflowing talent, who experienced the last fires of the swing age, the Be Bop revolution, the experimental seasons of Third Stream and Jazz Poetry up to Free Jazz. But he was also a tormented and angry soul, a man who, due to his mestizo origins, always had to deal with the hostility of American society.
Journalist Flavio Massarutto and artist Squaz (Pasquale Todisco) retrace the stages of Mingus's journey, giving life to a non-canonical biography, which proceeds in paginated episodes like a succession of passages that form a musical suite: fragments of existence told by fishing from interviews, writings, testimonies and historical facts. The portrait of a musician who is the mirror of an era comes out, of a brilliant composer who was also one of the most clearly committed artists in denouncing racism, with real manifesto pieces such as the famous Fable of Faubus denouncing the segregationist governor of Arkansas.
In the words of Massarutto and in the evocative art of Squaz, which also reinterpret some of the famous covers of Mingus records, we relive the burning parable of a restless man, always in search of perfection, in constant struggle with himself and with the world: a master capable of leaving an indelible mark on the musical and cultural panorama of the twentieth century.
"This impressionistic, interpretive biography of Charles Mingus (1922–79), jazz giant and volatile personality, is visually dazzling...One can almost hear the music while reading the panels."
- Liz French, Library Journal
"This title will appeal to jazz fans, especially those knowledgeable of Mingus’ career."
- Suzanne Temple, Booklist
"This intensely personal assessment and interpretation is less a biography and more a heartfelt paean of appreciation, channelling and exploring the hard, harsh tone of troubled times where talented, dogged souls fought for recognition and survival in a world determined to exploit and consume them."
- Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
"Massarutto and Squaz are true to their structure throughout, expressing the vibrant possibilities of jazz via constantly shifting moods and approaches."
- Ian Keogh, The Slings and Arrows
" Fascinating, informative, entertaining, Mingus is especially and unreservedly recommended as a 'must read' pick for the legions of Charles Mingus jazz fans…"
- James A. Cox, Library Bookwatch
"[The authors] do an absolutely amazing job at making Charles Mingus' musical art their art, too...This graphic novel shares some insights into an amazing jazz composer and human being."
- Karen Maeda, Sequential Tart
7x10, 160pp., full-color hardcover, $29.99
Buy the e-book: $19.99