Charles Mingus
Blues & Roots


4.5
superb

Review

by butcherboy CONTRIBUTOR (78 Reviews)
August 30th, 2017 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1960 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Habilis et Sapiens..

Listening to Mingus is like reading a modernist novel – It is The Naked and the Dead, Zuckerman Unbound and Rabbit, Run – a picture of how a feral masculine barbarian can pack soul, so punchy and propellant that it almost obscures the inimitable elegance and beauty posited within. In fact, aside from Art Blakey’s run through the early 60’s, one would be pressed to pluck out an arranger that walked the line between immediacy and precision with such a steady hand. Never as obtusely tangled as Monk, as maudlin as Coltrane or as capriciously light-handed as Ellington, Mingus was aggressive the way a deft boxer is – so exquisite and dignified in his assault that you felt dizzy with grace.

He matched Miles Davis in temperament and restlessness, but for all that coordinated chaos, there was always a sophistication to Davis’ tack that sometimes alienated the listener – so perfect and affectional that it seemed to be not of this world. Mingus’ arrangements on the other hand, move like earthly obelisks, their fingers callused, their feet streaked in mud. If anything, he was always easier grouped with similarly volatile musicians who preferred snaring passion, rather than letting it enclose around them – Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic or Clifford Brown.

Blues & Roots is a singular entry in Mingus’ body of work, a show of myopic focus on swing, with no tangents into the avant-garde or classical that had made his past records thrash and foam with personality and range (The violent ambience of Pithecanthropus Erectus or the future experimental, almost ballet-like affectations of his masterpiece Black Saint and the Sinner Lady). Yet for all its supposed primitivism in aesthetic form, Blues feels as vital and important as any of his best; six shots of a heady, unyielding brew.

Once “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting” gets into gear, it is all Mingus, his bass clattering forward as the rest of the musicians rally to keep the swirl going uninterrupted. Horace Parlan’s piano adds tiers and variations into the driving frame, as the wind section takes the piece into the stratosphere.

“Tensions” spends every second of its buildup living up to the name, the brass roiling and pulsating in anticipation, as the echoey bass stirs the piece into resolution.

The knotty slinkiness of the bass-line of “E’s Flat Ah’s Flat Too” is a true testament of Mingus’ prowess, turning a rhythmic metronome into a sustained burst of complexity that doesn’t lose either its center or its primal pleasure.

Blues & Roots crashes through the listener the way breakers do in rough weather, instinctual and beautiful and spilling over with measured substance. Mingus’ eventual demise from ALS is as tragic and as it is morbidly fascinating – a man whose life was built on virtuosic fingers rendered stiff and obsolete. What he left behind endures. There’s plenty that’s been said about what makes a genius – patience, madness, love, God, Nature, passion, opium, death. What seems less abstract is that ***ing poetry, that sheer beauty that sits so high, the thin air kills.



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user ratings (154)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

a short one, but i've been wanting to do a Mingus review for ages..

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zakalwe
August 30th 2017


23008 Comments


Nice.

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2017


4506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All these damn comparisons are as cold as hot as ice as lava



good review ❤

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ianblxdsoe
August 30th 2017


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

YESSS great review, never been a huge jazz connoisseur but i will love mingus til the day i die

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butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i would never doubt his status as a god, but he did also write a handbook on potty-training cats..

ianblxdsoe
August 30th 2017


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wouldn't that just further his status as a god 🤔

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

would it?



http://mingusmingusmingus.com/mingus/cat-traning-program

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2017


4506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

http://mingusmingusmingus.com/mingus/how-to-get-cat-piss-out-of-furniture

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it decidedly wouldn't..

zakalwe
August 30th 2017


23008 Comments


http://mingusmingusmingus.com/mingus/inventor-of-the-littertray-and-extendableflushpaw

MotokoKusanagi
August 30th 2017


966 Comments


fantastic review, fantastic album. good stuff

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UniqueUniverse
August 30th 2017


6744 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

juicy

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Winesburgohio
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


1782 Comments


what a fucking stunning review

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butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, gents..

Winesburgohio
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


1782 Comments


never though i'd live to see the day where Mingus was compared to Updike at all, let alone so appropriately... i totally get what you're saying and is it APT

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks you Wine.. my entire uni career consisted of me writing really unpopular documents on the greatest Modernist artists in history.. The Pollock Brigade..

ZippaThaRippa
August 31st 2017


10210 Comments


Classic example of a black man being forced to make music for a white audience,
Shameful

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2017


5280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahahaha, this country's in ruin!

Divaman
August 31st 2017


1377 Comments


Wow, a couple of classical music reviews on the front page, and now a review of Mingus. This site might be getting too classy for me.

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cylinder
August 31st 2017


1095 Comments


Beautiful review

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