1959 remains, arguably, the most important year in the history of jazz music. Among all-time classic efforts from Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus released his masterpiece, Mingus Ah Um. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of this seminal session, we were blessed with Mingus Ah Um: Legacy Edition (which includes a remaster of the original, along with bonus tracks and the entirety of the other album Mingus cut for Columbia in 1959, Mingus Dynasty). 1959 signified the year that Mingus, after considerable dues paying, fully matured as a musician and composer. Mingus Ah Um is a virtual encyclopedia of the jazz music made at that point in the 20th century, which means it celebrates the sounds and feelings of America. This is the one Mingus release that has a little bit of everything, from ebullient statements of purpose (“Better Git It in Your Soul”) to soulful tributes (“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, “Jelly Roll”) to Mingus’s inimitable sociopolitical smackdowns (“Fables of Faubus”). This reissue is at once an essential reminder for fans and an imperative introduction for novices; it is the ultimate testament to the miracle that was Charles Mingus, one of the immortal voices in American music.
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