You know him and you love him. The sounds of his fluid trombone runs have burned trails across your corpus collosum as your left brain comprehends his virtuosity while your right brain simply feels his music. He is trombonist Jimmy Knepper, a man who served in some capacity as the right hand of Charles Mingus for five magical years. Remember this?
In 1957, Knepper joined with the Mingus band and recorded Tijuana Moods, beginning a musical partnership that would yield some of the most treasured recordings in jazz history, including Mingus Ah Um, Blues & Roots and The Clown. The trombonist’s imaginative playing is a hallmark of the great bassist’s most beloved compositions. Feast your ears on this one.
October 12, 1962 was the day that their collaborative spark was extinguished. The volatile temper of the bassist erupted in violence against his trombonist over Knepper’s responsibility as music copyist for the 1962 Town Hall Concert. Knepper refused to take on additional responsibilities, and Mingus responded by punching Knepper in the mouth, breaking one of his incisors. This injury damaged his embouchure, making it impossible for Knepper to play his full range on the trombone. It would take him years to fully recover his playing form. A decade would pass before the two musicians worked together. The partnership ended but the music lives on and on and on.