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Charles Mingus - Ah Um

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Ah Um

Charles Mingus

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Charles Mingus' debut for Columbia, Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist's talents and probably the best reference point for beginners. While there's also a strong case for The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady as his best work overall, it lacks Ah Um's immediate accessibility and brilliantly sculpted individual tunes. Mingus' compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um. The band includes longtime Mingus stalwarts already well versed in his music, like saxophonists John Handy, Shafi Hadi, and Booker Ervin; trombonists Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis; pianist Horace Parlan; and drummer Dannie Richmond. Their razor-sharp performances tie together what may well be Mingus' greatest, most emotionally varied set of compositions. At least three became instant classics, starting with the irrepressible spiritual exuberance of signature tune "Better Get It in Your Soul," taken in a hard-charging 6/8 and punctuated by joyous gospel shouts. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a slow, graceful elegy for Lester Young, who died not long before the sessions. The sharply contrasting "Fables of Faubus" is a savage mockery of segregationist Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, portrayed musically as a bumbling vaudeville clown (the scathing lyrics, censored by skittish executives, can be heard on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus). The underrated "Boogie Stop Shuffle" is bursting with aggressive swing, and elsewhere there are tributes to Mingus' most revered influences: "Open Letter to Duke" is inspired by Duke Ellington and "Jelly Roll" is an idiosyncratic yet affectionate nod to jazz's first great composer, Jelly Roll Morton. It simply isn't possible to single out one Mingus album as definitive, but Mingus Ah Um comes the closest.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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Ah Um

Charles Mingus

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1
Better Git It in Your Soul Album Version
00:07:24

JIMMY KNEPPER, Trombone - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - C. Mingus, Lyricist - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Dannie Richmond, Drums

Originally released 1959. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat Album Version
00:05:44

Dannie Richmond, Drums - C. Mingus, Composer - C. Mingus, Lyricist - Teo Macero, Producer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Horace Parlan, Piano

Originally released 1959. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Boogie Stop Shuffle Album Version
00:05:02

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - Charles Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Willie Dennis, Trombone - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally released 1959. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
Self-Portrait in Three Colors Album Version
00:03:10

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Willie Dennis, Trombone - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally released 1959. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Open Letter To Duke Album Version
00:05:49

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Alto Saxophone - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Willie Dennis, Trombone - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

(P) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

6
Bird Calls Album Version
00:06:17

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Alto Saxophone - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

(P) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

7
Fables of Faubus
00:08:13

JIMMY KNEPPER, Trombone - Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - Charles Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Lyricist - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally released 1959. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
Pussy Cat Dues Album Version
00:09:14

JIMMY KNEPPER, Trombone - Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - John Handy, Clarinet - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

(P) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

9
Jelly Roll Album Version
00:06:17

JIMMY KNEPPER, Trombone - Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Alto Saxophone - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

(P) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

10
Pedal Point Blues Album Version
00:06:30

JIMMY KNEPPER, Trombone - Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Piano - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally recorded 1959 & released 1979. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
GG Train Album Version
00:04:39

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - F. ABBEY, Producer - Willie Dennis, Trombone - J. FISHEL, Producer - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally recorded 1959 & released 1979. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Girl Of My Dreams Album Version
00:04:07

Fred Plaut, Recording Engineer - Booker Ervin, Tenor Saxophone - Teo Macero, Producer - Horace Parlan, Piano - Shafi Hadi, Alto Saxophone - Shafi Hadi, Tenor Saxophone - John Handy, Alto Saxophone - C. Mingus, Composer - Charles Mingus, Performer - Charles Mingus, Bass - Michael Cuscuna, Re-Issue Producer - Dannie Richmond, Drums - F. ABBEY, Producer - Willie Dennis, Trombone - J. FISHEL, Producer - Ray Moore, Recording Engineer

Originally recorded 1959 & released 1979. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Charles Mingus' debut for Columbia, Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist's talents and probably the best reference point for beginners. While there's also a strong case for The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady as his best work overall, it lacks Ah Um's immediate accessibility and brilliantly sculpted individual tunes. Mingus' compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um. The band includes longtime Mingus stalwarts already well versed in his music, like saxophonists John Handy, Shafi Hadi, and Booker Ervin; trombonists Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis; pianist Horace Parlan; and drummer Dannie Richmond. Their razor-sharp performances tie together what may well be Mingus' greatest, most emotionally varied set of compositions. At least three became instant classics, starting with the irrepressible spiritual exuberance of signature tune "Better Get It in Your Soul," taken in a hard-charging 6/8 and punctuated by joyous gospel shouts. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a slow, graceful elegy for Lester Young, who died not long before the sessions. The sharply contrasting "Fables of Faubus" is a savage mockery of segregationist Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, portrayed musically as a bumbling vaudeville clown (the scathing lyrics, censored by skittish executives, can be heard on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus). The underrated "Boogie Stop Shuffle" is bursting with aggressive swing, and elsewhere there are tributes to Mingus' most revered influences: "Open Letter to Duke" is inspired by Duke Ellington and "Jelly Roll" is an idiosyncratic yet affectionate nod to jazz's first great composer, Jelly Roll Morton. It simply isn't possible to single out one Mingus album as definitive, but Mingus Ah Um comes the closest.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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