Today would have been Charles Mingus’ 91st Birthday and as such we’re going to celebrate one of his most pivotal albums and the drummer whose rapport with Mingus helped to define the style and feel of the record with the man who most certainly goes down in Charles Mingus & Dannie Richmondhistory as one of the greatest bassists, composers, and bandleaders of all time. Drummer Dannie Richmond joined Mingus at the young age of 20. “The musical rapport between Mingus and Richmond was instantaneous,” according to Brain Priestley’s Critical Biography of Mingus. “Dannie became Mingus’s equivalent to Harry Carney in the Ellington band, an indispensable ingredient of ‘the Mingus sound’ and a close friend as well.”

1959’s Mingus Ah Um was the sixth album Dannie Richmond and Mingus did together and the first for Columbia Records. Tracks like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Fables of Faubus” made their way into the canon of jazz standards. Concerning the latter, Mingus explains in “Aesthetics of Resistance: Charles Mingus and the Civil Rights Movement,” “I said, ‘Name me someone who’s ridiculous Dannie.’ He could only think of one guy. And pretty soon he made up ten or twenty.” Richmond continues, “We were playing it one night and the line, ‘Tell me someone who’s ridiculous,’ fell right in with the original line, and I happened to respond with ‘Governor Faubus.'” The chemistry these two shared on the bandstand and in the studio remains one of the great musical relationships of all time. Take a listen to the entirety of Mingus Ah Um below and we encourage you to dig deeper into their discography as you continue to listen.

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