Duke Ellington – Money Jungle
In the history of legendarily tension-filled masterpieces, this is one of the tensioniest most masterpieceiest of them all.
In the history of deliberate multi-generational “pairings,” this is one of very, very, very few that achieve genuine greatness.
In the history of Mingus Tantrum Tales, the Mingus Tantrum Tale that sits at the center of this album’s origin story is one of the best.
In the history of jazz albums that make history, this is one of the most historical.
And if it never quite occurred to you that Duke Ellington really was a fantastic bloody piano player, well, then this album is for you too.
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
Once upon a time in jazz, there was a man within whom lived both the blues and the jazz. He was a big man, a man of gargantuan appetites for life, for love, for music, for attention. He believed that everything could be improvised, that structure was a springboard, that you should play from the inside out. He believed he was the equal of Ellington, then cried like a baby in the presence of the master. He went half crazy many times over. He was a truth-mirror that we looked into and saw too much racism, too much poverty, and too little imagination. He believed that jazz should be, could be, would be funky, and soulful, and swinging. He believed jazz told a story.
This man made an album called Mingus Ah Um, and it will live forever as a musical testament to everything this man believed. The man’s name was Charles Mingus. He played bass, and was a performer, composer, and arranger. He was a genius. His name was Charles Mingus.