One of the most important figures in 20th century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. His early professional experience, in the '40's, found him touring with bands like Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton. Eventually he settled in New York where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950's — Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself. One of the few bassists to do so, Mingus quickly developed as a leader of musicians. From the 1960's until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music. When asked to comment on his accomplishments, Mingus said that his abilities as a bassist were the result of hard work but that his talent for composition came from God.
This is arguably Mingus' greatest recording. Featuring performances by John Handy, Booker Ervin, Jimmy Knepper, Horace Parlan, Dannie Richmond and many others! Mingus Ah Um presented this important arranger-composer on a major label for the first time. This album portrays some of his most startling and thought-provoking music.