Charles Mingus was a brilliant composer and bandleader, an improviser of rare genius, and one of the most important figures in 20th Century jazz. He moved the bass from the rhythm section to the front of the band and created music that combined New Orleans jazz, swing, be bop, post bop, Latin music, modern classical music, free jazz and avant-garde impulses into unforgettable and powerful compositions. He was also a fine pianist and a driven, sometimes self destructive, musician who continually fought against racism and the duplicity of the music business. He was just getting some mainstream recognition when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1977. He died in 1979, but his music will live forever.