Jelly Roll – Charles Mingus

Here is a Ukulele adaptation of a music by Charles Mingus in 1959 : Jelly Roll.

I discovered the Mingus Ah Um album at a time that seems to be long gone. Indeed, as a teenager, I used to go regularly to the media library of Châtillon, southern suburbs of Paris, to rent records. By taking albums, often according to the cover, it was the occasion for me to discover many artists. Charles Mingus is one of them : the cover of Mingus Ah Um having attracted my attention.

Why this song.

What struck me when I discovered the Mingus Ah Um album was the modernity of this music. Even today I find that it hasn’t aged a bit. This jazz, rough, creative, in search of the real more than the beautiful, is the type of jazz I prefer. The one you find in Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman, Moanin’ by Charles Mingus or Four On Six by Wes Montgomery.

I wanted to play Jelly Roll with the Ukulele because of the blues color of the title. As a guitarist, blues is part of the musical material that I of course practiced. In this idea, I want to explore a little more the bridges between the ukulele and the guitar on the colors of the blues. Jelly Roll is a perfect fit!


A shape that looks like a blues ! But then in what way?

We are in Ab and yet we start on 4 bars of Eb7. Then, after 4 bars of Eb7, Ab arrives in 5th bar as if we were on a blues in Eb and that Ab was the degree IV. A trick to turn our heads upside down! We have to wait until the end of the grid to have clearly the key with a ii V which concludes on Ab.

For my adaptation, I just raised the first grid of the saxophone solo. As if by magic, this solo fits completely in the range of the ukulele, which is not so frequent. Might as well take advantage of it!

Score and tablature.

If you wish, my adaptation is available in pdf format just below this text.
This is a non-commercial sharing.