For Charles Mingus’s centennial, DownBeat asked me to do a deep dive on the composer, bassist and singular American cultural figure. In this package of three pieces, I explore the place Mingus occupies in the popular imagination, by all accounts well-deserved, as a force of nature, an iconoclastic truth-teller, a volatile, emotional man with a violent streak. But his many friends and fellow musicians, people who knew and loved him, remember a different side: the spiritual seeker, poet, esthete and philosopher; the bandleader who took pains to treat his musicians fairly; and, above all, the artist he was right down to his bone marrow. Among the artists and critics I interviewed: Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, biographer Brian Priestley, and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Vincent Gardner, who served as musical director for JALC’s Mingus centennial tribute. The main article is here. A sidebar on the making of “Epitaph,” Mingus’s magnum opus, is here. Another piece about new Mingus recordings and tributes is here.