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4.8 out of 5 stars17
4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2007
Charles Mingus is a somewhat daunting figure in jazz music, and his records are not only musical adventures, but to delve even into the field of anthropology and psychology. Knowing where to start is difficult (Mingus' first major album's title was in Latin!), and the later records are conceptually so broad that they could put the casual listener off. This is not to say that they are not great music - they are stunning - but if you are looking to get into one of jazz music's most exciting and individual band leaders, you could do a lot worse than start with this disc.

This album was recorded at an exciting time in Mingus' life and work. His ensemble had grown to what could be described as a small big-band of around 9 musicians, and he was drawing on a feast of ideas which were coming out of the Jazz Workshops in New York City. He recorded three great albums in this period, of which "Mingus Ah Um" is probably the most famous, and although "Blues and Roots" does not quite match it in the brilliance of its execution, it remains a thrilling, highly musical and enormously enjoyable jazz record.

It was the producer Nesuhi Ertegün who put forward the idea for "Blues and Roots", partly to refute criticism of Mingus which claimed he did not swing hard enough, and also to provide "a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy." If nothing else, this album succeeds on this scale a hundred times over. However, Mingus himself went on to say "blues can do more than just swing", and it is in this dimension that the album provides such lasting musical food for thought.

The swing of the album is set off powerfully in the opening number - "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" with its pulsating bass line. "Moanin" (track 3) swings like nothing on earth: Pepper Adams' baritone sax provides the bass ostinato figure and Dannie Richmond drives the ensemble into a frenzy of blues-soaked figures. However, this track also demonstrates the ability to change texture and mood that makes the album so satisfying: no sooner has the climax of the ensemble playing been reached, than the horn players all drop out and a much lighter solo section is introduced. Mingus uses these shifts and changes to brilliant effect throughout the disc, so that at no point does any one texture become monotonous or dragging.

The other side to the album is to be found in the variety of feelings which Mingus achieves with a relatively small force of instrumentalists. "Tensions", for example, is edgy and the horn players provide a figure that sits uneasily over the rhythm section's work. It should be noted that the bass solo on this track is vintage Mingus.

I mentioned above that this album is not as great as its very near contemporary "Ah Um", but it is still a great album, and one which really should be in your collection. What it does do is provide is fantastic musicians blowing great tracks that pulse and surge with energy.
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on 10 February 2001
If anyone has ever wondered, as I once did, where that cool music from the advert for Tetley's beer comes from (the one with the guy on the beach whose dog comes out of the sea and causes the crowd to part like the scene from "Jaws") then look no further than track 3, titled "Moanin'"! What's more, the orignal version featured on this album is far, far superior.
This album was released several months after Mingus' blistering "Mingus Ah Um" although it was actually recorded before it. For anyone who already owns a copy of Ah Um, two of the tunes will be very familiar, namely "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" and "My Jelly Roll Soul" as they turned up in reworked form as "Better Git It In Your Soul" and "Jelly Roll" respectively. Despite this "Blues & Roots" is still a worthy purchase (even just for "Moanin' which, with its catchy theme stated on baritone saxophone, is, to my mind the star track on this disc). "Tensions" is another fine track - just listen to the way the solo bass reacts against the chords of the piano. "E's Flat, Ah's Flat Too" is another tune with a baritone line that you'll be humming for some time afterwards. There's some fine soloing from all three sax players: Booker Ervin (tenor), Shafi Hadi (aka Curtis Porter)(alto) and Pepper Adams (baritone). This is an intense and firery record which will probably take up a semi-permanent residence in your cd-player!
As with other Mingus albums recorded for Atlantic this has been recxently remastered to a very high standard and handsomely repackaged with a mock record sleeve featuring the original artwork and the original liner notes by notable Mingus commentator, Nat Hentoff who, on this release, adds yet another insightful look into Mingus the man and Mingus the musician.
For anyone who's heard Mingus' name and has been wondering what all the fuss is about, I urge you to invest in this disc - you'll find out, and you'll be glad you did!
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on 5 August 2005
Well, there will be one track recogniseable to many from a beer advert (Moaning) though sadly the original was not used (jazz geek alert!).
It features a small/medium band, partly arranged to give a very (as the title suggests) bluesy, rootsy and gospel influenced feel.
This album is most certainly not a polished studio effort, it is noisy, rough and absolutely full of talent, life and laughter.
It's a brilliant album, not dinner jazz, but jazz that blows stuffy politeness out of the water, I love it!
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on 20 December 2010
With hindsight it seems bizarre that prior to this album Mingus was accused by critics of not swinging enough. When I think of Mingus now I think of his main strength: taking quite complex ideas and making them seem simple with bands that swing like crazy.

Mingus takes as his starting point blues (Moanin), gospel (the 6/8 time Wednesday night prayer meeting) and New Orleans jazz (the Jelly Roll Morton tribute - My Jelly Roll Soul) but builds them into something a bit more complex. An extended group is used that adds depth to the music and the New Orleans style is utilised with multiple lines being played and the back-up players responding to soloists. Overall though it is the loose yet structured, swinging and raucous feel to the music that draws you in.

Mingus would use the same ideas again on numerous albums after this but here the ideas sound fresh and inspired and there are not really any weak tracks on the album. This album was a superb response to the critics and remains one of his best albums.
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Recorded 1959 with a nine piece band this album features six oroginal tunes, plus four alternate takes. Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting is an impressive start to the album. Followed by "Crying Blues", "Moanin'" (not to be confused with Bobby Timmon's tune of the same name from the same vintage), "Tensions"' "My Jelly Roll Soul" and "E's Flat Ah's Flat Too".
Featuring Pepper Adams (baritone), Jackie McLean and John Handy (altos), Jimmy Knepper (tmb) and Dannie Richmond (d). The pianist is Horace Parlan, except on "E's Flat.." Where Mal Waldron takes the chair.
Driving euphoric exciting emotional music throughout (It's a pity that we don't hear this passion from modern musicians, especially in Britain).
Absolutely engaging music throughout.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 March 2015
The great bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus(1922-1979) assembled a potent nine-piece band for this astonishing album recorded on February 4, 1959. With Mingus(bass) were Jackie McLean & John Handy(alto sax); Booker Ervin(tenor sax); Jimmy Knepper & Willie Dennis(trombone); Pepper Adams(baritone sax); Horace Parlan or Mal Waldron(piano) & Dannie Richmond(drums).
The music originates from blues, work songs, field hollers and the church and Mingus creates a unique and explosive sound from this small band. Four alternative takes are added to the original six numbers.
'Blues & Roots' was one of the first Mingus albums I heard in the early 1960s and this uncommonly fiery and passionate music still sounds wonderful over 50 years later.
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on 19 April 2015
deeply moving,thoughtful, powerful and displaying high levels of musicianship and co-opeation. A thoroughly listenalble to album, even for non jazz- lovers. .......though perhaps not for non-jazz lovers.
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VINE VOICEon 28 August 2007
Charles Mingus is a somewhat daunting figure in jazz music, and his records are not only musical adventures, but to delve even into the field of anthropology and psychology. Knowing where to start is difficult (Mingus' first major album's title was in Latin!), and the later records are conceptually so broad that they could put the casual listener off. This is not to say that they are not great music - they are stunning - but if you are looking to get into one of jazz music's most exciting and individual band leaders, you could do a lot worse than start with this disc.

This album was recorded at an exciting time in Mingus' life and work. His ensemble had grown to what could be described as a small big-band of around 9 musicians, and he was drawing on a feast of ideas which were coming out of the Jazz Workshops in New York City. He recorded three great albums in this period, of which "Mingus Ah Um" is probably the most famous, and although "Blues and Roots" does not quite match it in the brilliance of its execution, it remains a thrilling, highly musical and enormously enjoyable jazz record.

It was the producer Nesuhi Ertegün who put forward the idea for "Blues and Roots", partly to refute criticism of Mingus which claimed he did not swing hard enough, and also to provide "a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy." If nothing else, this album succeeds on this scale a hundred times over. However, Mingus himself went on to say "blues can do more than just swing", and it is in this dimension that the album provides such lasting musical food for thought.

The swing of the album is set off powerfully in the opening number - "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" with its pulsating bass line. "Moanin" (track 3) swings like nothing on earth: Pepper Adams' baritone sax provides the bass ostinato figure and Dannie Richmond drives the ensemble into a frenzy of blues-soaked figures. However, this track also demonstrates the ability to change texture and mood that makes the album so satisfying: no sooner has the climax of the ensemble playing been reached, than the horn players all drop out and a much lighter solo section is introduced. Mingus uses these shifts and changes to brilliant effect throughout the disc, so that at no point does any one texture become monotonous or dragging.

The other side to the album is to be found in the variety of feelings which Mingus achieves with a relatively small force of instrumentalists. "Tensions", for example, is edgy and the horn players provide a figure that sits uneasily over the rhythm section's work. It should be noted that the bass solo on this track is vintage Mingus.

I mentioned above that this album is not as great as its very near contemporary "Ah Um", but it is still a great album, and one which really should be in your collection. What it does do is provide is fantastic musicians blowing great tracks that pulse and surge with energy.
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on 13 August 2009
Everywhere seems to suggest that Ah Um is the one and only greatest introduction to Mingus's music. Not to knock that album, but it has a certain cinematic beauty that is best appreciated after several listens. Everything great about Blues & Roots, and Mingus, slaps you in the face right away.
This is the hottest sounding, most joyful jazz i've heard. Nobody but Mingus (as far as I know) has welded the tunefulness and good-time vibe of 'swing era' jazz with its more modern variant. He leaves Bop, and anything beyond it, sounding a bit cold and steely, despite being at the cutting edge himself.
Enough has already been said about the individual tunes on this disc. They are all 'TUNES' - not 'cuts' 'pieces' or 'numbers'
Also, the alternative takes are great. Listen 'til track 6, come back and listen from track 7. It's like a whole new EP.
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on 1 December 2009
This album has got more energy and exhubrance and is more invigorating than any other music Ive heard. It swings like crazy and the harmonies and scales used give it loads of athmosphere, the athmosphere of late night whiskey fuelled parties in the 1950's. It reaffirms the unrivalled transcendence which can be achieved, though alas too rarely, by a group of REAL musicians in a room playing together.
Moanin is so good that it even manages to remain free from the contamination of association which usually occurs when a peice of music is used in a long-running TV advert (it was in a car advert years ago, apparently because in the world of advertising jazz music has associations of playfull sophistication).
This is one of Mingus's earlier albums, but is perhaps the best showcase of what is great about his music:the energy, technical mastery, and the harmonic creation of mood.
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