Mingus (Joni Mitchell album)

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Joni Mingus.JPG
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released June 13, 1979[1]
Recorded 1978–1979
Studio A&M Studios, Hollywood and Electric Lady Studios, New York
Genre Jazz, vocal jazz
Length 37:20
Label Asylum
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
(1977)Don Juan's Reckless Daughter1977
Shadows and Light
(1980)Shadows and Light1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Pitchfork Media (5.5/10)[3]
Robert Christgau C+[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[5]

Mingus is the tenth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, and a collaboration with composer and jazz musician Charles Mingus. Recorded in the months before his death, it would be Mingus's final musical project; the album is wholly dedicated to him. Mingus was released on June 13, 1979.

The album is quite experimental, featuring minimalist jazz, overplucked, buzzing acoustic guitars, and even wolves howling through "The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey". All of the lyrics are by Mitchell, while the music for four of the songs was composed by Mingus, three being new tunes, a fourth being his tribute to saxophonist Lester Young from his 1959 classic Mingus Ah Um, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", for which Mitchell wrote a set of lyrics.

As with the release preceding, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Mitchell hired personnel from jazz fusion group Weather Report, notably bassist Jaco Pastorius to play on the sessions. Mingus would also mark the first reunion of saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock in the studio since recording together on Shorter's seminal Native Dancer album, featuring Milton Nascimento, released in September 1974.

The album is spliced with excerpts, which are labelled "(Rap)", from recordings provided by Sue Graham Mingus, including a scat singing interplay between Joni and Mingus, and Charles and Sue arguing over his age at a birthday party. In "Funeral", Mingus and others discuss how long he'll live and what his funeral will be like. He refers to the Vedanta Society and asserts that "I'm going to cut Duke [Ellington]!". "God Must Be a Boogie Man," having taken shape two days after his death, was the only song Mingus was unable to hear. Mitchell suggests in the liner notes that Mingus would have found it hilarious.

The artwork features several paintings by Mitchell of Mingus. It peaked at #17 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Joni Mitchell, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Happy Birthday 1975 (Rap)" music by Mildred J. Hill 0:57
2. "God Must Be a Boogie Man"   4:35
3. "Funeral (Rap)"   1:07
4. "A Chair in the Sky" lyrics by Joni Mitchell, music by Charles Mingus 6:42
5. "The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey"   6:35
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "I's a Muggin' (Rap)"   0:07
7. "Sweet Sucker Dance" lyrics by Joni Mitchell, music by Charles Mingus 8:04
8. "Coin in the Pocket (Rap)"   0:11
9. "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" lyrics by Joni Mitchell, music by Charles Mingus 3:21
10. "Lucky (Rap)"   0:03
11. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" lyrics by Joni Mitchell, music by Charles Mingus 5:37


  • Henry Lewy, Steve Katz – recording, mixing
  • Jerry Solomon – additional recording
  • Glen Christensen – art direction

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mingus by Joni Mitchell". Rate Your Music. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Mingus – Joni Mitchell : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979". Pitchfork. November 9, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ "CG: Joni Mitchell". Robert Christgau. October 4, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ The Rolling Stone Album Guide – Joni Mitchell