Mingus Ah Um

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Mingus Ah Um
Studio album by Charles Mingus
Released 1959
Recorded May 5 and May 12, 1959; Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City
Genre Post-bop[1]
Length 45:56
Label Columbia
Producer Teo Macero
Charles Mingus chronology
Jazz Portraits
(1959)
Mingus Ah Um
(1959)
Mingus Dynasty
(1959)

Mingus Ah Um is a studio album by American jazz musician Charles Mingus, released in 1959 by Columbia Records. It was his first album recorded for Columbia. The cover features a painting by S. Neil Fujita.[2]

Composition[edit]

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 and features a short sample of Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon for Two" on piano. "Bird Calls", in Mingus's own words, was not a reference to bebop saxophonist 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 (as can be heard on the 1960 release Presents Charles Mingus.)

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[3]
Popmatters 10/10 stars[4]
About.com 5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[6]

Mingus Ah Um was one of fifty recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2003.

50th Anniversary reissue[edit]

In 2009 Sony's Legacy Recordings released a special 2-disc 50th Anniversary Edition of Mingus Ah Um. In addition to the complete album, the Legacy Edition includes an alternative take of each of three tracks: "Bird Calls" (4:54), "Better Git It In Your Soul" (8:30), and "Jelly Roll" (6:41). The Legacy Edition of Mingus Ah Um also includes Mingus Dynasty, its companion album recorded later in 1959 (with unedited versions of five tracks shortened on the original LP release).[7][8]

Track listing[edit]

All songs composed by Charles Mingus, except 12, composed by Sonny Clapp. Original LP song lengths are given within parentheses.

  1. "Better Git It in Your Soul" – 7:23
  2. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" – 5:44 (4:46)
  3. "Boogie Stop Shuffle" – 5:02 (3:41)
  4. "Self-Portrait in Three Colors" – 3:10
  5. "Open Letter to Duke" – 5:51 (4:56)
  6. "Bird Calls" – 6:17 (3:12)
  7. "Fables of Faubus" – 8:13
  8. "Pussy Cat Dues" – 9:14 (6:27)
  9. "Jelly Roll" – 6:17 (4:01)
Bonus tracks on later reissues
  1. "Pedal Point Blues" – 6:30
  2. "GG Train" – 4:39
  3. "Girl of My Dreams" – 4:08
Notes
  • When Columbia first issued the album in 1959, six of the album's nine songs (tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9) were edited in order to fit them on the LP; certain songs were shortened by several minutes. These six tracks were first restored in 1979 and three other recordings were discovered. Later reissues contain both the full-length versions of the original nine tracks and the three new tracks.[citation needed]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  • Priestley, Brian. Sleeve notes to 1998 reissue of Mingus Ah Um (Columbia CK 65512)

External links[edit]