Eric Mingus
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Eric Mingus

Scarsdale, New York, United States

Scarsdale, New York, United States
Band Blues Jazz


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"SESAC Magazine 2009"

Eric Mingus: A Musical Heir Charts His Own Course

Trying to pigeonhole Eric Mingus isn't easy.

A composer practically from birth with an eclectic musical repertoire covering blues, rock and jazz, Mingus is primarily a stand-up bassist as a performer but also prides himself on his woodworking, carpentry, and cooking. The music he creates, as evidenced on his three albums as leader to date, ranges from Hendrixian rock to bluesy stylings though there's no disputing the influences indicated by his jazz legend father, Charles Mingus.

"I was brought up at a time when you didn't worry about defining who you are," he says. "That was always the record company's job. In Europe, my first album was released as a 'jazz' record, which basically led to its being dismissed. Even when I'm playing in Elliott Sharp's Terraplane, which is usually called 'avant-blues,' it's too far out for the blues crowd and too far in for the avant-garde."

Mingus recently stole the Oct. 4 Carnegie Hall show benefiting anti-AIDS organization (Red) from the likes of U2, Rufus Wainwright, and Lou Reed, not to mention the event's organizer, Gavin Friday.

Then there's the matter of re-releasing his three albums on his own Clockwork Mercury label this year, plus the occasional gig scoring sports documentaries for television. All while touring his unique brand of music.

As a young man continuing to explore music's possibilities, it was natural that he'd try bass. "A lot of people were horrified," he recalls, "telling me things like, 'Do you know how good you're going to have to be?' But I'm not claiming to be the bassist that [Charles] was - and he couldn't sing as well as I do either!" he chortles.

Asked about his choice of PROs, he says, "SESAC is really there for all the smaller and independent guys, in addition to the bigger names. You're never even acknowledged at the other ones unless you start earning at a certain rate. And if you call SESAC up, they'll actually pick up the phone, or at least get back to you. What," he chuckles, "a concept!"

The Mingus name has "absolutely opened some doors for me, but on the other side, the expectations have been much higher," he says. "But my father would have been really disappointed if I'd just gone and joined the Mingus Big Band [the touring and recording ensemble that specializes in playing Charles' music]. He always felt that my true heredity was to speak my own mind."

"I didn't really have a choice about my career," he says, "but my life isn't just music. I love baking bread, I love fooling around with stuff at the house. I'm really grateful for the gift I've been given - it's allowed me to see the world - but ultimately my life is about living life."


"Pens Eye View Interview"

Some of my favorite artists in the world are my favorites because they’ve managed to live through some incredible experiences. Whether going through the best or most terrible of times, these artists know how to take in that knowledge and spit it right back out in a more than useful form for the rest of us. Today's feature is one of those artists that has a notably diverse background, so interesting that he cannot help but reflect it in his music; stuff so damn entertaining that you could base a movie on the guy. I'm talking about none other than Mr. Eric Mingus.

The son of legendary jazz performer Charles Mingus, Eric grew up working at comedy clubs, boxing on the amateur circuit, even mixing drinks in the boardroom of the Old Grandad whiskey company – like I said – the type of guy you'd like to shoot the breeze with any random night at your local watering hole. While Carnegie Hall is a far leap from your local bar, that’s probably the next spot you can hear Mr. Mingus. He'll be performing there this Sunday as a featured performer at the RED/ Gavin Friday/ U2 event. Impressive stuff.

He's also got some records he's working on, including his collaboration record with Catherine Sikora (together known as Clockwork Mercury), as well as his latest solo album, “Rawman�. Mingus talks about the collection, “I want to communicate the songs in their original raw state from their inception. Some time ago I went back and listened to my old demos and found a quality that was lost once the music went into a full production. I want to preserve that energy.�

There’s much on the horizon for Eric Mingus, including a U.S. release of his record “Healin’ Howl� as well as a tour through Europe and even some work for the 2010 Winter Olympics. There’s much more to learn below, so keep reading for the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Eric Mingus (PEV): What goes through your head the minute you walk onto stage?

EM: Hopefully nothing but the music.

PEV: How did you first jump into the music industry?

EM: After years of choir and classical training I started my music career as a teenage bass player and singer in a few punk bands... Played CBGB's a bunch... Then sort of expanded from there. But I think I have worked pretty much outside the industry thus far.

PEV: You are currently writing music for your next solo album, and for the next Clockwork Mercury album. What can we expect from these works?

EM: Clockwork Mercury's music is a collaboration between myself and Catherine Sikora. Our music starts with a basic structure but gets expanded on by improvisation, so we come up with things even we don't expect.

As for my next CD, Rawman... I am going back to where I started musically... It will be a predominately solo endeavor, I want to communicate the songs in their original raw state from their inception. Some time ago I went back and listened to my old demos and found a quality that was lost once the music went into a full production. I want to preserve that energy. I think t will be a harder edged music from me.. More in line with my live performances.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Eric Mingus show?

EM: Might sound funny, but I don't think I'm the one to ask. I put all my energy into my shows. I have gone from delicate explorations of melody, to guttural wailing while hanging from the rafters. The audience has more to do with the vibe of the show sometimes. If they are open to me I will be open with them.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance together as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

EM: I was six years old at a school talent show.... I sang.. People's jaws dropped. I am older now and people's jaws still drop.

PEV: You will be a featured performer at the RED/ Gavin Friday/ U2 event at Carnegie Hall on October 4th. This is a huge honor. How important to be a part of this night is it for you?

EM: I am thrilled that Gavin asked me to play that night at Carnegie... It is a special place and it will be a special night. It will definitely place it high on my list of important events in my life.

PEV: How is working with a show like this – a large collaboration – different then other partnerships you entered?

EM: I have worked on several of Hal Willner's multi artists events, what I love about them is they are about the music, not the performers in the show. I think that approach works with all collaborations, large and small...

PEV: Tell us about the creative time behind the making of the album? What was it like creating this?

EM: Hopefully all time is creative time... or at least the non creative time can be utilized in what is created. I thoroughly enjoyed putting together Healin' Howl.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of the band?

EM: That there aren't any band members.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you and you were determined to make it happen?

EM: I don't think I knew music would be my career... I worked hard to make it that way and work hard to keep it that way. I have been fortunate that there are folks who dig what I do and that that allows me to spend my life making music and poetry.

PEV: What one word best describes Eric Mingus?

EM: Concrete...

PEV: Traveling is now a large part of your life now. How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any fun stories?

EM: I love the road... It's when I feel the most alive and in the moment. You can only really deal with what is in front of you. The best part for me exploring the world outside of the venues I perform in. I try and explore every place I visit. I take long walks when time allows. I also dig hotel rooms. The downside... Airports, small plane seats and airlines that skimp on frequent flyer miles. Road stories in the end always turn out to be "you had to be there stories"... They are only fun to the folks telling them.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your musical career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

EM: So far so good. Most of my family are in the creative arts or very much support them. Haven't played New York City in a bit, so we will see when I hit the stage at Carnegie...

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from performing?

EM: I bake bread.

PEV: You have also produced scores for documentaries and series such as,

Shadow Boxing: the Journey of the African American Fighter (ESPN Classic), Fighting The Mob: The Carmen Basilio Story (ESPN Classic), Sweet Science, a boxing documentary. What is it like to see you work in this aspect versus performing it live on stage?

EM: I really enjoy composing for film, it can be an intense collaboration trying to get your music to fit with someone else's vision. But when it works it's really great to see. I also love that most of the films I have scored are boxing related, having been an amateur boxer growing up. My father first taught me how to box and after he died, I was fortunate to have a friend bring me to the boxing gym of Floyd Patterson. Floyd saved my life. I would love to score a film on his life.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

EM: Embarrassingly, I have been so focused on new projects I haven't been listening nor have been going out to hear much music. But I am sure they are out there and I look forward to hearing them myself. Maybe you can make some suggestions.

PEV: If playing/writing music was not your career, what would you most likely be doing?

EM: Baking bread.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio/space right now, what would we find?

EM: Pigeons, Squirrels, grass, trees, a section of the hudson and a park bench.

PEV: So, what is next for Eric Mingus?

EM: Working on Rawman is my priority right now. I am also going to get my back catalog available for download in November as well as releasing "Healin' Howl" Here in the US and I have a fairly extensive European tour with Elliot Sharp's Terraplane. Some gigs with Clockwork Mercury in Ireland.Then I am participating in another Hal Willner production, a Neil Young tribute as part of the 2010 winter olympics. I am also working on the perfect baguette. - Richie Frieman


Film/television scores:

Shadow Boxing: the Journey of the African American Fighter (ESPN Classic)

Fighting The Mob: The Carmen Basilio Story (ESPN Classic)

Sweet Science, a boxing documentary. (Independent)


As leader:
Um...Er..Uh (Some Records)
Too Many Bullets Not Enough Soul (Some Records)
Healin' Howl (Intuition)

As co-leader:
This Isn't Sex
Clockwork Mercury (Independent)



Musician, stand-up bassist, vocalist, and son of acclaimed jazz legend, Charles Mingus, Eric Mingus prides himself on combining poetry with his music. His songs communicate the idea of what artistic creation really is and define what the term “freedom” really should mean in music, art, and expression.

The music Eric Mingus creates ranges from Hendrixian rock to bluesy stylings, though there is no disputing the influence of his jazz legend father, Charles Mingus in Eric’s music. It is the relationship between Eric and his father Charles that both nurtured and fostered his independent voice and ambitions in music. It was natural that he’d try bass.

“A lot of people were horrified,” he recalls, “telling me things like, ‘Do you know how good you’re going to have to be?’ But I’m not claiming to be the bassist that [Charles] was – and he couldn’t sing as well as I do either!” he chortles.

In the form of live performance lectures that include original music, poetic compositions, and personal anecdotes including tales from his days “growing up Mingus,” Eric looks to help all generations define themselves as people and show them how he has tackled all that life has served him in a continuous effort to chart his own course.

Discussions about his life, his music, and his influences, including his father, Charles.

Solo performances of his original work or ensemble performances with collegiate bands.

Vocal or bass workshops with concert or jazz band students.