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Mingus Ah Um

Mingus Ah Um

by Charles Mingus, Booker Ervin, John Handy Charles Mingus
Mingus Ah Um

Mingus Ah Um

by Charles Mingus, Booker Ervin, John Handy 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.

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Product Details

Release Date: 02/16/1999
Label: Sony
UPC: 0074646551226
catalogNumber: 65512
Rank: 7472


  1. Better Git It in Your Soul
  2. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
  3. Boogie Stop Shuffle
  4. Self-Portrait in Three Colors
  5. Open Letter to Duke
  6. Bird Calls
  7. Fables of Faubus
  8. Pussy Cat Dues
  9. Jelly Roll
  10. Pedal Point Blues
  11. GG Train
  12. Girl of My Dreams

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charles Mingus   Primary Artist,Bass,Piano
Booker Ervin   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
John Handy   Clarinet,Saxophone,Alto Saxophone
Jimmy Knepper   Trombone
Horace Parlan   Piano
Dannie Richmond   Drums
"Captain" John Handy   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Willie Dennis   Trombone
Shafi Hadi   Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone

Technical Credits

Michael Cuscuna   Reissue Producer
Teo Macero   Producer
Ray Moore   Engineer
Fred Plaut   Engineer
Mark Wilder   Engineer,Remixing
Brian Priestley   Liner Notes
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Randall Martin   Reissue Design
Rob Schwarz   Remixing
Mike Cimicata   Packaging Manager
Diane Dorr Dorynek   Liner Notes

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