Kristi B. from N MUSKEGON, MI Reviewed on 8/8/2006...
my cd does not have the last 3 songs on it.
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Completely Satisfying?A Work of Genius
M. Allen Greenbaum | California | 07/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first track says it all: "Better get it into Your Soul." This is soul-stirring, head-thumping, body-shaking stuff. Insistent, penetrating, simply inspired. Hard to compare it to anything, really, although it has elements of bebop, blues, gospel, and that crazy no-holds-barred spirit of funk. One of my top ten jazz cuts.The famous "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," a tribute to Lester Young, is a quieter blues-based piece, centered around soulfully played sax. Emotionally, it's both sad and affectionate. "Boogie Stop Shuffle" sounds like the soundtrack to some weird 60's spy movie --with Mingus, expect the unexpected! Excellent piano by Horace L. Parlan, Jr. driven along by the lionesque Mingus on bass. Self-portrait in "Three Colors" and "Open Letter to Duke" feature brilliant Ellingtonian arrangements and warm colors. The latter piece has superb boppish sax-riffs, settles into a richly colored niche, and then breaks into some rhythmic and melodic audacity. Mingus' brilliant, daring "Fables of Faubus" retains its mocking tone, but is less political than the vocal version on the magnificent "Live at Antibes." It's an interesting contrast to his bold (courageous, even) attack on Governor Faubus in the live version, and, again, shows Ellington's influence in its beautifully complex arrangement. "Pussy Cat Dues" and "Jelly Roll" deliver a New Orleans laid-back sound. On `Dues,' Mingus lays down some languid, monumental bass effects. It's thick luxurious sleaze, sliced through with the purity and strength of the sax.One of the best of the studio albums, although, frankly, I like them all. An innovator, an explorer, a trailblazer, he is truly a genius. You'll find more and more to appreciate with every listening. Most highly recommended to the Mingus fan as well as the most hesitant newcomer"
The 1 cd beginners should start their mingus collection with
R. Davis | louisville, ky | 10/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i admit it...charles mingus has always intimidated me...i have other music by him, a live disc that even his die-hard fans have criticized and a compilation of blues and ballads that i only enjoy in spurts...
...nothing that i have bragged about to others...just kinda ho-hum...
but mingus has always remained one of those musicians that i have felt compelled to dig into to find out what all of the fuss was about...i'm glad i kept diggin and didnt stop with those other recordings because this is some truly enjoyable music being played here! for those of yall with similar encounters with mingus as i, or if you are just looking for that first album of his for you to get into, then let me recommend this one for you; you'll either be satisfied and stop with this purchase or very pleased and urged (as i) to dig deeper into his other classics..."
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1959, Charles Mingus was at the height of his powers-- in the midst of a roll from a stream of fine music on Atlantic, he signed to Columbia and delivered his first album in early 1959, "Mingus Ah Um". Perhaps the best album Mingus ever recorded, Mingus augments his working band (saxaphonists John Handy and Booker Ervin, pianist Horace Parlan, and drummer Dannie Richmond) with reedman Shafi Hadi and either trombonist Willie Dennis or Jimmy Knepper, and produced an album of such startling variety and briliant performance that it demands attention.
To this day, when someone curious about Mingus' music asks me for a recommendation, without hesitation, I immediately suggest this album. From the opener, it all works-- Mingus' racing "Better Git It In Your Soul" is a gospel shout masked as a jazz piece-- featuring the leader on rambling vocals, a gospel shout theme, a jaw dropping solo by Booker Ervin (under which the rest of the band claps rhythm) and just stunning and sensitive drumwork from Richmond that puts the exclamation mark on the piece-- this really is about half of what Mingus has to offer as a musician. The other half comes in funereal ballad "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", second track on the album. A tribute to departed saxophonist Lester Young, Mingus evokes raw mourning in his sax line, and Handy's solo and Mingus' support of it are nothing short of astonishing (check Mingus' echo of Handy's fluttering for evidence of this).
By the time you've finished these two tracks, if it's not working for you, Mingus probably isn't for you, and the rest of the record isn't going to change anything.
Mind you, the rest is pretty good too, alternately energetic and explosive ("Bird Calls") and mellow and beautiful ("Self-Portrait in Three Colors") with at least one stunning arrangement ("Open Letter to Duke") and another bonafide classic in "Fables of Faubus". Composed about the then-governer of Arkansas and his segregation policies, "Fables" originally had vocals, but Columbia censored Mingus, fearing the outcome of such a move (check out "Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus" on Candid for the uncensored version of the piece). The resulting piece has to rely on horns only for sarcasm and bitter exposition, which it does remarkably well, and it is full of bluesy solos, including a Mingus solo that is as biting as any vocal could be.
The reissue features pristine sound-- it certainly could have been recorded yesterday, and three additional tracks that were unearthed in the '70s. All three (particularly "Pedal Point Blues") are fine material nad well worth having. Included in the liner notes are two essays-- the original album notes and a new one, both of which are interesting reads.
"Mingus Ah Um" is one of the classics of Charles Mingus' catalog, and is on the short list of essential jazz listening. Highly recommended."
David Bradley | Sterling, VA USA | 04/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is pure 1950s Jazz, the kind that makes you feel like a filterless cigarette might be a good idea.The playing is flawless, the recording sterling, the swing endless.If I have one complaint here, it is Mingus's bass being hidden in a forest of other superb players. The first few bars of the record, just Mingus on bass, then piano, then horns and the rest, had me eager for a bass-heavy experience. It's all great stuff, but I wanted to hear the standup.This is a classic that any Jazz fan should own."
Ricard Giner (email@example.com | Brighton, UK | 06/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah Um is one of Charles Mingus's most richly textured albums, dense and dynamic all at once. It is almost as if the whole of the jazz tradition to that date, and some vision of its immediate future, were crammed into three-quarters of an hour. It is not as ambitious as The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) and still retains some measure of conventionality in the structures of some of its constituent pieces: introduction, ensemble statement of the theme, solos, development, recapitulation, closing statement.Peculiar wails weave themselves in and out of ironic quotations from Ellington, from Mingus, from the blues, all cloaked in the enormity of the Mingus sound, thrust forward by rhythms and counter-rhythms tightly driven by Dannie Richmond. It contains the passionate, aching "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat". An indispensable album."