Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Charles MINGUS - Mingus Ah Um 1959

Charles MINGUS - Mingus Ah Um 1959
1989 Issue. LSP 982 150-1


The first track says it all: "Better get it into Your Soul." This is soul-stirring, head-thumping, body-shaking stuff. Insistent, penetrating, simply inspired. Hard to compare it to anything, really, although it has elements of bebop, blues, gospel, and that crazy no-holds-barred spirit of funk. One of my top ten jazz cuts.
The famous "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," a tribute to Lester Young, is a quieter blues-based piece, centered around soulfully played sax. Emotionally, it's both sad and affectionate. "Boogie Stop Shuffle" sounds like the soundtrack to some weird 60's spy movie --with Mingus, expect the unexpected! Excellent piano by Horace L. Parlan, Jr. driven along by the lionesque Mingus on bass. Self-portrait in "Three Colors" and "Open Letter to Duke" feature brilliant Ellingtonian arrangements and warm colors. The latter piece has superb boppish sax-riffs, settles into a richly colored niche, and then breaks into some rhythmic and melodic audacity.

Mingus' brilliant, daring "Fables of Faubus" retains its mocking tone, but is less political than the vocal version on the magnificent "Live at Antibes." It's an interesting contrast to his bold (courageous, even) attack on Governor Faubus in the live version, and, again, shows Ellington's influence in its beautifully complex arrangement. "Pussy Cat Dues" and "Jelly Roll" deliver a New Orleans laid-back sound. On `Dues,' Mingus lays down some languid, monumental bass effects. It's thick luxurious sleaze, sliced through with the purity and strength of the sax.

One of the best of the studio albums, although, frankly, I like them all. An innovator, an explorer, a trailblazer, he is truly a genius. You'll find more and more to appreciate with every listening. Most highly recommended to the Mingus fan as well as the most hesitant newcomer
By M. Allen Greenbaum.
One of the five essential Mingus albums to own, and even if you are not a jazz fan this is still worthy of being in any comprehensive collection. The opening track, "Better Git It In Your Soul," rushes along at a furious pace and then there is a wonderful change of tempo into an a cappella and handclap pause. It rolls on, of course, but the nature of this track reflects the nature of Mingus who never failed to experiment. The personnel comprises John Handy III, Shafi Hadi and Booker Ervin (saxophones), Horace Parlan Jr (piano), Willie Dennis and James Knepper (trombones) and Charles Richmond (drums). Mingus whoops, shouts and holds it all together and then turns the pace majestically on numbers such as "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.
Charles Mingus- Bass, Piano
Shafi Hadi- Alto and Tenor Sax
Dannie Richmond - Drums
Horace Parlan Jr- Piano
Booker Ervin- Tenor Sax
Willie Dennis- Trombon
Jimmy Knepper- Trombon
John “Captain John” Handy- Alto and Tenor Sax, Clarinete
A1 Better Git It in Your Soul  7:23
A2 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat  5:44
A3 Boogie Stop Shuffle  5:02
A4 Self-Portrait in Three Colors  3:10
A5 Open Letter to Duke  5:51
B1 Bird Calls  6:17
B2 Fables of Faubus  8:13
B3 Pussy Cat Dues  9:14
B4 Jelly Roll  6:17

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