20 June 2008

Friday Album Cover: Blues & Roots

Charles Mingus
Blues and Roots

In the liner notes to his 1959 masterpiece Blues and Roots, Charles Mingus explains,
This record is unusual--it presents only one part of my musical world, the blues. A year ago, [Atlantic records executive and producer] Nesuhi Ertegun suggested that I record an entire blues album in the style of Haitian Fight Song, because some people, particularly critics, were saying I didn't swing enough. He wanted to give them a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy.
The record which Mingus produced was a classic album of the hard bop genre, which presented a return to the so-called roots of jazz; namely, swing and the blues, with a bit of gospel thrown in for flavor. Mingus proved his critics wrong with this album, and also demonstrated the myriad possibilities presented by the blues. On the album cover, Mingus is presented as a serious artist of the blues, deep in contemplation. Juxtaposed against the almost violent swing of the album, the album cover serves the purpose of presenting jazz (as well as its blues roots) as a serious art form. Mingus's facial expression portrays a deep contemplation, as if he is preparing to reveal the secret of his art. He is a man on a mission, preaching the gospel of jazz to all who are willing to hear it.

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