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CD Review:

Taiwan Music from Taiwan Fun Ah Um - Charles Mingus,

This CD is a re-release of the original 1959 record, with an additional three tracks, that music magazine Down Beats' 1964 yearbook named one of the 'essential' jazz albums. Mingus (1922-1979) was one of the few jazz greats who was a bassist. Two of Mingus' most memorable theme tunes are featured on 'Ah Um'. The first (and personal favorite) is 'Better Git It In Your Soul'. The vocal effects of the horn playing featured on this track were seldom heard in jazz before Mingus. There's also the non-instrumental impact of hand-clapping and shouts of the 'congregation' as well as the surging six-to-the-bar rhythm, which is quite unusual in jazz music. The second theme tune, 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' (an elegy to tenor saxophone poet Lester Young) derives its effectiveness from an underlying tension between the seemingly simple blues melody and the yearning chord sequence. Mingus' emotional and musical complexity are amply demonstrated on 'Ah Um'--the call of the blues, blistering post-bop, gospel shouts, evocations of early jazz, the civil rights struggle and the multi-hued musical palette of his idol--Duke Ellington.

by Stu Phillips-Laurie



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