15/02/2019: “Moanin'” by Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus is one of the Jazz greats. With a furious temper and exacting standards, he made a tough band leader.

But he had an undeniable genius, in both his playing, his vision, and his compositions. In particular, he was known for his ability to bring out the best in groups, and assemble great bands, and was sometimes compared to Duke Ellington because of this.

“Moanin'” isn’t actually one of his compositions. It’s a 50s Jazz standard, originally penned by Bobby Timmons, and then first performed by Art Blakely 1958. It’s a jazz standard, so has been performed by a multitude of artists.

Mingus was known for drawing on a wide range of musical influences, but the album on which this appears, 1960’s Blues & Roots, is Jazz based strongly on blues; he was responding to critics who said he couldn’t swing, and acting on the advice of a record producer.

It’s a very highly rated album, for good reason.

The song itself is a very smooth, free flowing affair, and starts with a brass call and response. After that, the running bassline starts and the song gradually gets more complex.

Utterly brilliant!

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