Apr 6, 2013

Charles Mingus, Blues & Roots (1960): Free Wheeling Blues Whaling


I have always considered Charles Mingus the poor man's Duke Ellington, not meant as a slight at all.

Where duke's music was sophisticated and refined, though still exotic at times, Mingus was earthy and visceral. I prefer the Mingus music over Ellington's in fact.

 Charles' best music sounds like a runway freight train that somehow makes it back to the station in one piece. Without question my favorite Mingus album is Blues & Roots.

 Mingus' response to the critics who had been chirping that he didn't swing enough, he ran a blues flag up the poll, and hear how proudly that flag displays it's gritty down home colors.

"Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" sounds just like what Sunday morning might sound like in the African American church, the mid point hand clapping and the Booker Ervin Solo are what Jazz dreams are made of.

Can you you think of a ballsier tenor/alto combo than Booker Ervin and Jackie McLean?  these guys love that aforementioned freight train, as their own playing adds to the overall gritty "on the edge" vibe.

Then you throw in the hard tone of baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams.  He starts "Moanin" off in style.

I have always preferred Adams' tone on baritone more than Gerry Mulligan's lighter more sterilized sound. Pepper has this guttural sound that really melds well with the brass.

Blues & Roots may not be the most important record in Mingus' discography, but it is the the most straight ahead no-bullshit album of his career.

 If your just coming into jazz, Check out The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Mingus ah um, and Let My Children Hear Music, the latter being the most underrated in the Mingus catalog.


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