Charles Mingus' Blues & Roots Reissued as Part of the Atlantic Records 75th Anniversary Series on 45rpm 180g 2LP. Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio From the Original Analog Tape and Pressed by Quality Record Pressings.
AllMusic marks Charles Mingus' Blues & Roots as a rejoinder to the critical carping that the virtuoso bass player and accomplished jazz pianist and bandleader and his evocative music "somehow didn't swing enough." For this album Mingus turned to the earthiest and earliest sources of black musical expression — blues, gospel, and old-time New Orleans jazz. The resulting album ranks arguably as Mingus' most joyously swinging outing.
Recorded in 1959 and released in 1960, Blues & Roots' birth was explained by Mingus in the album's liner notes: "This record is unusual-it presents only one part of my musical world, the blues. A year ago, Nesuhi Ertegün suggested that I record an entire blues album in the style of 'Haitian Fight Song' (in Atlantic LP 1260), because some people, particularly critics, were saying I didn't swing enough. He wanted to give them a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy. I thought it over. I was born swinging and clapped my hands in church as a little boy, but I've grown up and I like to do things other than just swing. But blues can do more than just swing. So I agreed."
Anyone who had heard "Haitian Fight Song" shouldn't have been surprised that such an album was well within Mingus' range. Mingus boosts the complexity of the music by assembling a nine-piece outfit and arranging multiple lines to be played simultaneously — somewhat akin to the Dixieland ensembles of old, but with an acutely modern flavor.
That modern flavor is reinforced and enhanced by the lush Analogue Productions reissue treatment that gives this new version more depth, richer sonic execution and acute audio clarity, particularly in the higher frequencies. Expert mastering from the original master tape by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, and two 45 RPM flat-as-a-table 180-gram LP platters from Gary Salstrom and his crew at Quality Record Pressings properly unveil the loose and free-swinging performance. The wider-spaced grooves promote better cartridge tracking and the silent black playing surface stays clear of the audio playback.
There's no question of Mingus' firm grounding in the basics on Blues & Roots, writes AllMusic, nor of his deeply felt affinity with them. Whether the music is explicitly gospel-based — like the groundbreaking classic "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" — or not, the whole album is performed with a churchy fervor that rips through both the exuberant swingers and the aching, mournful slow blues. Still, it's the blues that most prominently inform the feeling of the album, aside from the aforementioned "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" and the Jelly Roll Morton tribute "My Jelly Roll Soul."
- Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting
- Cryin' Blues
- My Jelly Roll Soul
- E's Flat Ah's Flat Too