"One night many years ago, [writer Frank] Conroy was playing solo piano at a club in Harlem when 'a large black man got up from his dinner and moved forward.'
Conroy immediately recognized him as Charles Mingus, 'the foremost jazz bassist in the world,' and was terrified that he was about to be put down in no uncertain terms.
"Instead, Mingus picked up the bass that was leaning against the piano, 'waited for the top of the tune and began to play with me.'
"A year later, Mingus did the same thing again. Conroy, flattered and amazed, asked: 'What's going on, Charlie? You're the best bassist in the world and I'm a putzer.'
"'You are,' he said expansively, 'an authentic primitive. That is true.' He leaned forward and lowered his voice. 'But you swing.'"