Mingus' legacy is enormous: He is generally ranked among the finest jazz composers and performers; some consider him perhaps greatest bassists in jazz history. Many Mingus albums are easily available; most are highly regarded. Dozens of musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers His songs--though melodic and distinctive--are sometimes underrecorded by later musicians, due in part to their challenging nature.
Mingus is nearly as well known for his volatile temperament as for his ambitious music. His refusal to compromise his musical integrity led to many onstage explosions,though it has been argued that his temper grew also from his desire to vent frustration. Ironically, a perfect show could irritate him by closing this outlet.
Mingus was prone to depression (possibly manic-depression). He tended to have brief periods of extreme creative activity, intermixed with fairly long periods of greatly decreased output.
Most of Mingus' music retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop, and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of third stream music and free jazz. Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own unique brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz. Mingus is often considered the heir apparent to Duke Ellington, for whom Mingus expressed unqualified admiration.