Mingus' debut album for Columbia Records is not only his greatest, but also probably the best place for a beginner to start. The double bass and piano player is immediately accessible over its nine tracks, with the shortest being around three-minutes. The album itself represents excellent value for money - over 70-minutes of trendsetting progressive jazz.
'Mingus Ah Um' is eclectic, wonderfully mixing sombre cuts like 'Goodbye Porkpie Hat' (an elegy for the recently departed sax legend Lester Young) to bluesy, tenor sax led explosions like 'Boogie Stop Shuffle'. The result is a gospel-tinged mixture of hard and soft, sad and joyous mixtures of sax and trombones, expertly held in place by Mingus himself.
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