In northern India, at the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the sacred river Ganges, lies the town of Rishikesh. The first town this holy river reaches on its descent from the mountains, Rishikesh is home to many ashrams including Vivekenanda, Sivananda and Osho. As a pilgrimage point, Rishikesh greets many devout Hindus and wandering sadhus (holy men). Many come to bathe in the sanctified waters of the Ganges, as Hindus believe this can remove layers of karma. Charles Mingus’ ashes were spread in the holy waters of Rishikesh in 1979.
Cuernavaca, the City of Eternal Spring, is in the heart of Mexico, surrounded by some of the most beautiful and culturally rich regions of the country. Capital of the state of Morelos, it joins numberless traditions and millenarian legends. The magical mountainous landscape introduces a town that thrives on the extraordinary healing capacities of the indigenous communities. It was here in 1978 where Charles Mingus searched for a cure to a disease that was taking his life.
NEW YORK CITY
New York, known as the creative capital of the world, was a mecca for jazz artists in the middle of the 20th century. The birthplace of Bebop, it drew many talented musicians who left an indelible mark on jazz history. Manhattan gathered some of the most important figures of the time like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Bud Powell. While West coast proved an environment from which Charles Mingus grew creatively, as an African-American musician his career options were limited. In search of better opportunities, he relocated to New York in the 1950s, one of the few american cities that had an integrated musician union. From that point on, New York would be the place where Mingus lived and worked, building musical relationships with artists on the forefront of change.
Los Angeles, California, has been home to some of the most seminal expressions of the African musical tradition in America that has come to be known as jazz music. Raised right in the heart of Los Angeles’ ‘black belt’, Charles Mingus moved to Watts in early 1923. He lived only a block from Simon Rodia who was building the Watt Towers, said to be the largest structure ever made by one man alone. Central Avenue was the cultural epicenter for the African-American community during the 1930s and 1940s. It was an economic nexus and a center of political power for disenfranchised minorities. Performing in the clubs of Central Avenue within the social and racial context of Los Angeles, had a profound effect on the early stage of Charles Mingus’ life.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. WASHINGTON DC
The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and serves as the research arm of Congress. Located in Washington DC, it is also the largest library in the world, with millions of articles in its collections. Housed in what has been called the most beautifully decorated building in the United States, it was completed in 1897 and enhanced by the art of over forty sculptors and painters. Purchased from Sue Graham Mingus in 1993, the Mingus Archives represent the most important acquisition relating to jazz in the Library’s history. The Charles Mingus Collection captures Charles’ career in seven series. These series include Music, Writings, Business Papers, Printed Matter, Iconography, Personal, and Sound Recordings. Each series is rich with effects and document his experiences in the music industry and facets of his private life.
In one of the most conflictive borders of the world, lays the city of Nogales, Arizona. Bridging the southwest United States and northeast Mexico, this region has been a crossroads community for centuries. Divided in two parts, the “two twin cities” share a rich history of a migratory path and trade route that was known as “The King’s Highway”. Charles Mingus was born here in 1922. Raised in a multicultural family, with his father serving in a segregated army, he spent the first moments of this life here.
Mingus Mill is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The mill sits near the Mingus Creek. It was built in the 1790’s and restored in 1886 by the Mingus family, who owned it until in the 1930’s when it was acquired by the U.S Department of Interior. Near the mill along the bounds of the former plantation grounds, marked by the Mingus Creek, is the cemetery. Worn graves leave traces of the site’s deep history. The park’s museum houses historical documents such as local census records. The mill continues to operate seasonally grinding grist to flour as a historical exhibit. It is the only remaining landmark of the Mingus family settlement.