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Charles Mingus & Joni Mitchell: Jivin' with Joni: The Lost Recordings 1978-1979


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Charles Mingus & Joni Mitchell: Jivin' with Joni: The Lost Recordings 1978-1979
Looks like a bumper month of archival releases awaits the ever ready Mingus aficionado. First, in late April, 2022, Resonance Records unleashes The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott's. Just in time for Record Store Day (April 23) Candid Records releases a sweetly remastered Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. Now, in a joint announcement from Jazz Workshop Inc. and Rhino Records to celebrate the big man's centennial (April 22) comes Jivin' with Joni: The Lost Recordings, 1978-1979.

Recorded just months before the bassist's death from ALS, this astounding 3 disc set (Disc 3, overseen by Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones is a 2021 Dolby Atmos remaster of Mitchell's watermark Mingus (Asylum, 1979)) is curated by none other than Mingus' widow Sue Mingus and Mitchell herself, with help from long time Mitchell confidantes—writer/director Cameron Crowe and tape archivist Joel Bernstein. The team seems to have beaten all the bushes to collect in pure chronological order, every contemporaneous demo, outtake, alternate, sketch mix, studio chatter, and creative banter from all involved. Even the long lost and long sought after experimental sessions, hitherto rumored to have been lost or destroyed by any number of nefarious ways, surface in glorious sound.

"It Goes Like This, Joni I-II-III" throws us into the boisterous rabble of ideas head first. With Phil Woods meandering on alto sax and Jan Hammer's mini Moog burbling a tentative groove, Mitchell takes chordal directions from Mingus whose hearty laughter is never too far from the thick of things. Unable to play, the man's mind was still as sharp as ever and it's near revelatory to hear Mitchell, a woman who knew her own mind just fine, follow the master and random plan. From this comes the previously unknown "Elbow Room" a cockney brew of LA smooth and Deep South church over which Dannie Richmond narrates/croons "More for the bride, more for the groom, everyone wants more elbow room."

Credited to both Mingus and Mitchell, "The Ballad of Toots Banger" doesn't, by any measure, rival the concise energy and form of two keynote tracks from Mingus "The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey" or "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines," but it is a colorful, loose-limbed, tone poem portrait of a duck pin bowling champion highlighted by a saucy solo from Gerry Mulligan and a soft shoe shuffle courtesy of Tony Williams. "Spin this up like a washing machine!" Mingus intones at the opening of "Pieces of Wisconsin" a dizzying bit of dissonance featuring fuzz and funk from John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke as Mitchell yowls ala Yoko Ono.

A hushed studio demo of "A Chair In the Sky" finds Hancock and Mitchell studiously pulling the loose threads of the song together. It is a quiet moment of peers seeking their best. A previously unknown home recording, "Evergreen Eyes" returns Mitchell to her Hejira moments of triumph. Alternate takes of "Sweet Sucker Dance" and an extended vamp through "God Must Be A Boogie Man" only set the stage for "You're Old Enough To Say Goodnight" (think "Paprika Plains" meets "Slop" while Wayne Shorter and Jaco Pastorius converse freely and you might have some idea how this nineteen minutes goes.) Mitchell and bassistEddie Gomez get between drummers John Payne Guerin and Peter Erskine for brief sketches and spontaneous scat poetry on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," Moanin,'" "Woodstock," "Caravan," and "All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother." (Hearing Mingus cheer the four on from wherever he was sitting in the studio is particularly moving.) If it is true that genius is timeless, then Jivin' with Joni: The Lost Recordings,1978-1979 is going to be with us for many millennia to come.

Track Listing

Disc 1: It Goes Like This, Joni I-II-III; Elbow Room; Boogie Woogie Man (Groove 1);Charlie Chatter (1); Joni Replies(1); Screwdriver Monday (Sketch); The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey (Alternate); More Charlie Chatter; Edith and The Kingpin; You're Old Enough To Say Goodnight (False Start); Your Guardian Angel Can't Relax (Demo & Rehearsal Mix); Joni & Charlie. Disc 2: The Whole Outdoor Scene; The Ballad of Toots Banger; Pieces of Wisconsin; Pieces of Wisconsin (End Piece); A Chair In the Sky (demo); Evergreen Eyes (Joni Home Recording); Sweet Sucker Dance (Alternate); God Must be a Boogie Man (Rehearsal & Alternate); Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/ Moanin'/ Woodstock/ Caravan/ All the Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother; You're Old Enough To Say Goodnight. Disc 3: Happy Birthday 1975 (Rap); God Must Be a Boogie Man; Funeral (Rap); A Chair in the Sky; The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey; I's a Muggin'; Sweet Sucker Dance; Coin in the Pocket (Rap); The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines; Lucky; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.


Charles Mingus: bass, acoustic; Joni Mitchell: voice / vocals; Herbie Hancock: piano; Jaco Pastorius: bass, electric; Wayne Shorter: saxophone; Phil Woods: saxophone, alto; Stanley Clarke: bass; Jan Hammer: keyboards; Dannie Richmond: drums; Eddie Gomez: bass; Gerry Mulligan: saxophone, baritone; Tony Williams: drums; John Payne Guerin: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Peter Erskine: drums.

Album information

Title: Jivin' with Joni: The Lost Recordings 1978-1979 | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: April First Records

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