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“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” — Charles Mingus
When looking for quotes, I was considering some lofty sentiment from a philosopher or war hero. But I’ve found that musicians offer some of the best quotes I’ve come across. In providing the advice above, Charlie Mingus doesn’t only speak to his fellow jazzbos, but to every writer, professor, architect, and anyone else trying to communicate in any medium.
Born in the border town of Nogales, AZ, Mingus was steeped in church and classical music. Since it was tough for an African American to play a cello in an orchestra, he switched to bass in a swing band.
He toured with Louis Armstrong, played in Lionel Hampton’s band, and was fired from Duke Ellington’s band due to his fearsome temper. He then headed out on his own and played with all the jazz greats of his age, culminating in his masterpiece Mingus Ah Um. Here’s the opening song from that album — and keep it simple, stupid.
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