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Liben Music Publishers

Mingus - Live in the Underworld
by John Chenault


In the spotlight,
In the underworld cafe,
The bearded blue demigod of lust swings to the sacred music
Of the Boogie Stomp Shuffle.
He has stolen the fire of heaven, carried it naked in his cleft hands,
Composed and conducted it in wood and metal,
Until the blue flames leapt and flew phoenix-like from his fingers
To be reborn as saints and sinners in a netherworld symphony.


The boogie man god walks bass lines sharp as needles.
Bass lines that pop skin and leave bloody tracks on veins.
Bass lines that spell his name in hieroglyphs and tatoos of flatted fifths
And stigmata of diminished seventh chords
That bleed blue on the augmented palms of crucified jazz saviors.
Fractured icons of bass lines that blow the mind,
Bittersweet and plucked like forbidden fruit from the tree of life
Or poured straight no chaser from shot glasses like wisdom.
Messianic bass lines, melodic as a snake's spine, that curve over
The horizon like a spent sun destined to reincarnate with each dawn.

The bass sets down in the west and it rises in the east hey now.
I said the bass sets down in the west and it rises in the east.


God Mingus must be
Must God be Mingus
A Boogie Woogie Man with his wooden box and horse hair bow
Playing serious until Carnegie Hall falls down like London Bridge.


Hey Diddle Diddle the Black Cat and the Fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon.
He swings his axe and heads roll from the bandstand
He swings his axe and the mad hearts weep and moan
He swings his axe and the celestial virgins impale themselves
On his microphone stand.
While all the King's horses and all the King's men
are dancing on Humpty's grave.

Fi Fie Fo Fum
I smell the blood of the underdog.


You are the fable, the fairy tale, the myth of eternity,
The legend legends are made of.
Without you there is no mythology, no theology, no guts, no glory.
Without you God is a naked string
Stretched between heaven and earth
Without a song to sing


In the spotlight,
In the underworld cafe,
The god of boogie dances on his throne.
His smile, a pizzicato grimace, cuts to the bone
As shards of stone fall from his lips to become pyramids,
obelisks, avenues of sphinxes that stretch from horizon to horizon.

Jazz licks the sweat on his forehead like a halo.
His Faubus fabled eyes pierce the smoke
As demons dance on the head of the tune
And death in a pork pie hat strolls through the door in triplets
Just in time for for the last set.

Click to view a sample of the Solo Bass Part

About John Chenault
to Afro-American Fragments