Saturday, December 19, 2009

1040 - Mojo 21 - Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Track Listing

1. Better Git It In Your Soul
2. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
3. Boogie Stop Shuffle
4. Self Portrait In Three Colours
5. Open Letter To Duke
6. Bird Calls
7. Fables Of Faubus
8. Pussy Cat Dues
9. Jelly Roll


Another great Jazz album to close the 1950s with. In a much more traditional shape than Ornette Coleman's Shape of Jazz to Come, it is also a much more enjoyable album in pure pleasure terms, in fact it is a riot of an album.

Great track follows great track, from the party-like first track to the noir dance of Boogie Stop Shuffle the whole thing is pretty great. There are even nods to free jazz, Bird Calls starts dissonant but like a Beethoven symphony it all resolves itself into great music.

You can see from the titles of the tracks that plenty of them are tributes, to Lester Young (Goodbye Pork Pie Hat) or Charlie Parker (Bird Calls) or Duke Ellington (Open Letter To Duke) but they all are very much Mingus tracks even with allusions to other musicians. Another great, great album inexplicably absent from the previous list.

Track Highlights

1. Boogie Stop Shuffle
2. Better Git It In Your Soul
3. Bird Calls
4. Open Letter To Duke

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD calls this album "an extended tribute to ancestors" (and awards it one of their rare crowns), and Mingus's musical forebears figure largely throughout. "Better Git It In Your Soul" is inspired by gospel singing and preaching of the sort that Mingus would have heard as a child growing up in Watts, Los Angeles, California, while "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a reference (by way of his favored headgear) to saxophonist Lester Young (who had died shortly before the album was recorded). The origin and nature of "Boogie Stop Shuffle" is self-explanatory: a twelve-bar blues with four themes and a boogie bass backing that passes from stop time to shuffle and back.

"Self-Portrait in Three Colors" was originally written for John Cassavetes' first film as director, Shadows, but was never used (for budgetary reasons). "Open Letter to Duke" is a tribute to Duke Ellington, and draws on three of Mingus's earlier pieces ("Nouroog", "Duke's Choice", and "Slippers"). "Jelly Roll" is a reference to jazz pioneer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton; "Bird Calls," in Mingus' own words, was not a reference to bebop legend Charlie "Bird" Parker: "It wasn't supposed to sound like Charlie Parker. It was supposed to sound like birds - the first part."

"Fables of Faubus" is named after Orval E. Faubus (1910–1994), the Governor of Arkansas infamous for his 1957 stand against integration of Little Rock, Arkansas schools in defiance of U.S. Supreme Court rulings (forcing President Eisenhower to send in the National Guard). It is sometimes claimed that Columbia refused to allow the lyrics to be included on this album, though the liner notes to the 1998 reissue of the album state that the piece started life as an instrumental, and only gained the lyrics later.

Boogie Stop Shuffle:

1 comment:

TimmyWing said...

Gotta love Mingus.

By the way, you've inspired me to go through the 1001 Albums myself (and I may in fact continue onto other lists such as the Mojo Collection). Hopefully I'll get to The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady by February. It's such a downright excellent composition from beginning to end.