Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um – Columbia/Legacy

by | Jun 15, 2009 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um – Columbia/Legacy 88679 480102 (2 CDs), 76:28, 74:28 [Release date: May 26, 09] *****:

These 1959 sessions, produced by Teo Macero at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in NYC, found Mingus at the peak of his art at that time.  In addition to slightly better sonics than previous CD reissues (they were mixed from the original three-track masters – too bad they couldn’t be released as SACDs) there are seven alternate takes and bonus tracks and a pdf file with rare photos and previously unpublished documents about how these recordings were made. The composer, bassist and bandleader was at full throttle, partly due to the terrific sidemen he was able to assemble for these sessions: John Handy, Horace Parlan, Booker Ervin and Dannie Richmond among them. Don Ellis plays trumpet on some of the tracks issued in the second album. Mingus also paid homage in his compositions to other jazz greats, including Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Lester Young.  Some of his greatest hits are included in this lavish reissue: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Better Git it In Your Soul, and Fables of Faubus. The raw shouting of some of the players was quite different from such interjections by band members in earlier times. But the interjections on Fables of Faubus were moderated to be less controversial;  a later Candid album by a Mingus quartet included the vocals “tell me who’s ridiculous,” and the response: “Faubus, Faubus.”  Nine of the tracks on these two CDs were edited down for the original two LP releases, and in this reissue package the complete takes are heard.

Mingus moved on to other labels after this, but this landmark edition – part of the same reissue packages from 1959 devoted to Miles and Dave Brubeck – documents perhaps the greatest year for the jazz bassist figure and some of his music which influenced both jazz and rock in the years to follow.


Disc: 1    
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    
13. Bird Calls (Alternate) 
Disc: 2    
1. Better Git It In Your Soul (Alternate)    
2. Jelly Roll (Alternate)    
3. Slop    
4. Diane    
5. Song With Orange    
6. Gunslinging Bird    
7. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be    
8. Far Wells, Mill Valley    
9. New Now Know How    
10. Mood Indigo    
11. Put Me In That Dungeon    
12. Strollin’

— John Henry

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