Charles Mingus ‘Mingus Ah Um’

Smart. Sensitive. Funny. Poignant. Complex. Charming. Engaging. The range of ‘Mingus Ah Um’ is staggering. Stylistically, it covers a lot of ground, with gospel, blues, hard-bop, and nods to Mingus’s classical roots woven throughout. And whether you’re most taken with the moving balladry of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” or the perpetual motion machine of “Bitter Git It In Your Soul,” the compositions, arrangements, and playing are all top-shelf. I’m endlessly fascinated by this record. Mingus deployed an approach that took each musicians’ style into account, creating a situation where collective improvisation and spontaneous composition played to everyone’s strengths. The result is everything sounds both carefully planned and spur-of-the-moment at the same time. It’s genius, and a joy to hear. Charles Mingus-bass; Booker Ervin-tenor sax; John Handy-alto/tenor sax, clarinet; Shafi Hadi, alto/tenor sax; Jimmy Knepper & Willie Dennis-trombones; Horace Parlan-piano; and Dannie Richmond-drums. Recording ‘Mingus Ah Um’ took place beginning 7 May 1959 and wrapped on this date, 12 May

Dexter Gordon ‘Doin’ Allright’

Kickstarting a remarkable run for @bluenoterecords in 1961, ‘Doin’ Allright’ was a triumphant return to the jazz scene for Dexter Gordon, after struggling through a rough stretch of addiction, incarceration and a resulting downturn in his musical activities. This was my first Dexter album (thanks @tom.sladek) and it remains one of my favorites, especially for the two originals “Society Red” and “For Regulars Only” (which has a Freddie Hubbard trumpet solo for the ages). The three standards are also top shelf, with several shining moments in particular from pianist Horace Parlan, though it’s Dexter himself who steals the show. The vibe he creates on the ballad “You’ve Changed” gives me all the feels. This title is now back in print as part of @bluenoterecords 80th celebration, an all-analog 33 issue cut by Kevin Gray which sounds FANTASTIC. A terrific introduction to the music of @dextergordon.official or to jazz in general. And if you haven’t taken this out for a spin in awhile, today’s a great day to do so