Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog

Director: Don McGlynn
Year Released: 1998
Rating: 3.0

Cursory look at the life of the late, great jazz artist Charles Mingus, a brilliant - but intense and contradictory - musician who had plenty of admirers even though his inter-personal skills were a bit lacking. McGlynn gathers together many musicians who knew and played with Mingus (not to mention two of his wives) and doesn't sugar-coat Mingus' abrasive personality - he was adored and feared, a braggart and a tongue-in-cheek fibber (some of his claims about his own exploits are ludicrous, but he liked to cultivate his reputation as a wild-man). Though it's nigh-impossible to cover a lot of the man's life in a scant 80 minutes, the key focus here is on the music, and McGlynn's choice of archival recordings gives a nice overview of Mingus' oeuvre.