A great 70s 2-fer that brings together two classic Charles Mingus albums for Columbia! First up is Mingus Ah Um – an essential album in any jazz collection! This 1959 gem was recorded by Mingus at a key point in his career – when he was rising from the jazz underground into the ranks of America's elite jazzmen, penning some of the most challenging work of his career, and working with incredible younger players that interpreted his work with a great deal of fire! The tracks are a bit more tightly arranged than work on some of Mingus' previous work for labels like Atlantic and Bethlehem
, but that also gives them a razor-sharp emotional edge that's carried off perfectly by players who include John Handy and Shafi Hadi on alto saxes, Booker Ervin on tenor, Willie Dennis and Jimmy Knepper on trombones, Horace Parlan on piano, and Dannie Richmond on drums. The album is filled with key Mingus classics – like "Better Git It In Your Soul", "Boogie Stop Shuffle", "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", and "Fables of Faubus" – plus "Self Portrait In Three Colors", "Open Letter To Duke", and "Bird Call". Next is Mingus Dynasty – his follow-up to the seminal Mingus Ah-Um, and a set that's got a very similar flavor! As with some of Mingus' best material for Columbia, the album has him working with a slightly larger ensemble, but still holding onto the intensity of his smaller groups from a few years before – a way of merging the voices of saxophonists like Booker Ervin, John Handy, Benny Goldson, and Jerome Richardson – yet still allowing them space to break out with moments of pride and power that really send the whole thing home! This mix of the individual and ensemble is key to the Mingus genius of the period – and is also heard in the work of Roland Hanna on piano, Donald Ellis on trumpet, Jimmy Knepper on trombone, and Theodore Cohen on vibes – all of whom work alongside Charles' key drummer of the time, the great Dannie Richmond. Titles include "Diane", "Song With Orange", "Gunslinging Bird", and "Far Wells Mill Valley" – and a haunting take on "Mood Indigo".