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Music / Mingus Ah Um

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Mingus Ah Um is a 1959 album by Jazz musician Charles Mingus. It was inducted in the National Recording Registry in 2003 for being "historically, culturally and aesthetically important."


Side One

  1. "Better Git It in Your Soul" (7:23)
  2. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (5:44) note 
  3. "Boogie Stop Shuffle" (5:02) note 
  4. "Self-Portrait in Three Colors" (3:10)

Side Two

  1. "Open Letter to Duke" (5:51) note 
  2. "Bird Calls" (6:17) note 
  3. "Fables of Faubus" (8:13)
  4. "Pussy Cat Dues" (9:14) note 
  5. "Jelly Roll" (6:17) note 

Bonus tracks on later reissues

  1. "Pedal Point Blues" (6:30)
  2. "GG Train" (4:39)
  3. "Girl of My Dreams" (4:08)


  • Charles Mingus: bass, piano
  • John Handy: alto sax, clarinet, tenor sax
  • Booker Ervin: tenor sax
  • Shafi Hadi: tenor sax, alto sax
  • Willie Dennis: trombone
  • Jimmy Knepper: trombone
  • Horace Parlan: piano.
  • Dannie Richmond: drums

Goodbye Trope Pie Hat:

  • Alliterative Title: "Fables of Faubus".
  • Animal Motifs: "Bird Calls", "Pussy Cat Dues".
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Fables of Faubus"
  • Canis Latinicus: The album title is based on the patterns that students of Latin memorize for the declension of adjectives, treating Mingus' last name as the masculine nominative form.
  • Color Motif: "Self-Portrait in Three Colors".
  • Design Student's Orgasm and Minimalistic Cover Art: The album cover is an abstract image, painted by S. Neil Fujita.
  • Homage: “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is a homage to Lester Young, “Open Letter To Duke” to Duke Ellington, “Jelly Roll” to Jelly Roll Morton.
  • Instrumental: All tracks are instrumental. In the case of "Fables of Faubus", thanks to Executive Meddling - Columbia Records thought the lyrics were too political and insisted that he record the song as an instrumental instead.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is a homage to saxophonist Lester Young, who died a year earlier and was well known for wearing a pork pie hat. “Fables of Faubus” was written because of Orval E. Faubus, governor of Arkansas’ infamous stand against integration of the schools in his state in defiance of the US Supreme Court, forcing Dwight D. Eisenhower to send in the National Guard.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: “Self-Portrait in Three Colors” was originally written for John Cassavetes film ‘’Shadows’’, but never used because of lack of budget. It ended on this album instead. “Fables Of Faubus” would be recorded again on “Presents Charles Mingus” (1961), this time with lyrics.
  • Rule of Three: "Self-Portrait in Three Colors".
  • Self-Titled Album: "Mingus Ah Um".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Open Letter to Duke", as in Duke Ellington, in whose band Mingus had briefly played.
    • Joni Mitchell added lyrics to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" on her album Mingus (1979), a collaboration with Mingus during the months before he passed away.
    • Roland Kirk also composed lyrics to the song, included on his album "The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man" (1976).
  • Studio Chatter: Mingus can famously be heard shouting instructions and general encouragement to his musicians on several songs, especially "Better Git It In Your Soul".
  • Take That!: "Fables Of Faubus" is aimed at governor Orval E. Faubus, who defied multiracial schools in his state Arkansas.