Milestones, Jan. 22, 1979

DIED. Charles Mingus, 56, virtuoso bassist and composer whose emotional, free-floating music helped shape modern jazz; of a heart attack after suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease); in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Raised in the Watts district of Los Angeles, Mingus began studying bass in high school, later played with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker before forming his own combo in New York in the mid-'50s. Influenced strongly by blues and gospel, he began writing music that highlighted the bass as a solo instrument and featured contorted harmonies and quick-changing rhythms...

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