Saturday Night Tunes: Blues and Roots

I’ve mentioned tunes from Charles Mingus’s Blues and Roots on a couple of other occasions, but here we are again because, well, I love this album. Released in 1960, it represents basically Mingus’s attempt to troll critics and record company execs (like his producer, Nesuhi Ertegün) who were complaining that his music was too complicated and esoteric. Why don’t you do an album of blues, they said, some straightforward jazz that really swings? So Mingus gave them Blues and Roots, an album of some of the most authentically blues music you could imagine, yet also absolutely Mingus at the same time. Raucus, inspired, right on the edge of avant garde but still centered right in the heart of the blues/gospel tradition (when he gets all the different horn players playing different lines simultaneously, you’ll swear you’re listening to a tent revival meeting), it’s just a phenomenal collection of music that showcases what makes Mingus so great. But enough gushing, on to the music:

“Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting”:

“Cryin’ Blues”:

“Moanin’,” starring the excellent baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams (we played this one in the college jazz band, so it’s a personal favorite):

“My Jelly Roll Soul,” Mingus’s tribute to early jazz/ragtime pianist Jelly Roll Morton:

“E’s Flat Ah’s Flat Too”:

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