The Clown Story

Charles Mungus’ “The Clown” is a mesmerizing storytelling improvisation narrated by Jean Shepherd. Here is Mingus’ own word on the piece:

I felt happy one day. I was playing a little tune on the piano that sounded happy. Then I hit a dissonance that sounded sad, and I realized that the song had to have two parts. The story as I told it to Jean Shepherd, is about a clown who tried to please people – like most jazz musicians do – but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with the clown blowing his brains out, with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; it leaves more up to the listener.