Charles Mingus “Ah Um” (1959)

Track Selection:  “Fables of Faubus”


Jimmy Knepper or  Willie Dennis (tb) John Handy (as, cl) Booker Ervin (ts) Curtis Porter (ts, as) Horace Parlan (p) Charles Mingus (b) Dannie Richmond (d) recorded NYC, May 5 & 12 1959


One reviewer describes “Ah Um” thus: “This Record Is Absolutely Freakin’ Amazing In Every Single Way I Can Think Of, and it’s never ever bored me, not even once.” I think he likes it.

Vinyl: BBL7352 UK first pressing (1959) on Philips black labels of Columbia CS 8171

Superb cover which went on to see many changes with later reissues. Despite their well deserved reputation for pressing on behalf of other labels, Philips early  microgroove pressings are a disappointment. Thinnish vinyl and a lack of dynamic range compared with contemporary releases by London Atlantic, RCA, HMV and Decca. Other records from Philips own label at this time all have the same character.

Increasing the volume 20% gives a very acceptable sound, with good midrange punch, just lacking in  top-end brightness and presence. However it’s mono and many later reissues go stereo. Nice to have an original, even if it challenges the old adage that “original is best”.


6 thoughts on “Charles Mingus “Ah Um” (1959)

  1. Pingback: Jazz Collectors of Instagram: Interview with @dottorjazz2 | Deep Groove Mono

  2. Oh Lord….
    the first of various versions of Fable of Faubus, and the less interesting.
    I love this record but if you wanna listen to the most irreverent version of Fables, go straight to Charles Mingus presents Charles Mingus on Candid.
    You’ll see the difference between a record produced by Mingus and others, as this one, where he didn’t.
    Ah um and the following Dynasty, both on Columbia, were dramatically edited at the time.
    Interesting is a posthumous double Columbia, Nostalgia in Times Square, where we can listen to unedited versions.
    So we can easily understand the never ending war between Mingus and record companies.
    It’s not strange that Charles ( he hated to be called Charlie) founded three different companies himself to produce his records: Debut, Candid and Jazz Workshop.


    • @ dottorjazz

      Charles Mingus was not the founder of Candid records. It was Archie Bleyer’s label. Nat Hentoff ran the A&R and day to day duties.



        • I wasn’t aware Mingus had such a beef with the industry, although I am very aware of his thoughts on Rudy and the reasons for avoiding RVG production full stop. I also think he may be right on a couple of points. (We are still in debt to RVG nonetheless)


    • I once heard the theory that the editing of tracks was one of Mingus’ ways of composing and presenting his music. Editing requires deliberate choices. The alternative would haver been to issue full tracks and thus creating a surplus of material. As was later issued on this Columbia two-fer and by Mosaic (and on Columbia CD). Full, unedited, tracks are not always better than edited ones, Mingus with scissors, is another side of the artist.


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