Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition [reissue]

January 01, 1970

(Columbia Legacy)

 

www.legacyrecording.com

 

Virtuosic
upright bassist Charles Mingus had the rare ability to alternately infuse his
seething jazz with the call-and-response of a Sunday night prayer meeting or
the lush tones of the Duke Ellington orchestra at its best. Recorded in 1959, Mingus Ah Um (named after a Latin
student’s first lesson in noun declension) was one of the earliest Mingus
albums to present the full picture, played by the daring band that fit the
relentless musical titan like a glove. In addition to longtime drummer Dannie
Richmond, who would abet Mingus in the sanctified moans and groans on later
albums Blues & Roots, Tijuana Moods and Mingus Oh Yeah, the combo also featured volcanic tenor saxman
Booker Ervin and alto sax legend John Handy, as well as pianist Horace Parlan
and trombonists Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis.

 

What
made Mingus’ music so irresistible was his ability to leap from the volatile
sounds of “Better Git It In Your Soul” and “Boogie Stop
Shuffle” to the down-and-out blues of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”
Then there was the unclassifiable nature of “Fables Of Faubus,” aimed
squarely at Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who had blocked the integration of Little Rock’s public
schools in 1957. The version of “Fables” heard here is not nearly as
potent as the one cut for Candid Records in 1960’s Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. With alto saxist Eric
Dolphy and trumpeter Ted Curson on board, Mingus and Richmond
flay the redneck politician with scathing lyrics that Columbia had probably put the kibosh to the
year before.

 

Nevertheless,
the fleshing out of the original album here and the inclusion of a second disc
loaded with unreleased bonus material and alternate takes, makes up for all
that on Legacy’s 50th anniversary edition. Jazz could use another Charles
Mingus today, someone who could grab a far too-comfortable audience by the
lapels and shake them out of their 50-year lethargy.

 

Standout Tracks: “Better Git It In
Your Soul,” “Boogie Stop Shuffle” JUD COST

 

 

 

 

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