Open main menu

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.[2]

Joni Mingus.JPG
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 13, 1979[1]
StudioA&M Studios (Hollywood) and Electric Lady Studios (New York)
GenreJazz, vocal jazz
ProducerJoni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Shadows and Light
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideC+[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[5]

The album is quite experimental, featuring minimalist jazz, over-plucked, 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 listingEdit

All tracks written by Joni Mitchell, except where noted.

Side one
1."Happy Birthday 1975" (Rap)music: Mildred J. Hill0:57
2."God Must Be a Boogie Man" 4:35
3."Funeral" (Rap) 1:07
4."A Chair in the Sky"lyrics: Joni Mitchell; music: Charles Mingus6:42
5."The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey" 6:35
Side two
1."I's a Muggin'" (Rap) 0:07
2."Sweet Sucker Dance"lyrics: Joni Mitchell; music: Charles Mingus8:04
3."Coin in the Pocket" (Rap) 0:11
4."The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines"lyrics: Joni Mitchell; music: Charles Mingus3:21
5."Lucky" (Rap) 0:03
6."Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"lyrics: Joni Mitchell; music: Charles Mingus5:37


Sources:[6] [2]


Prior to recording the album, Mitchell had several "experimental sessions" with New York musicians who had worked with Mingus. These musicians included:

The recordings of the "experimental sessions", rumored to have been lost, destroyed, or made otherwise unavailable have become available as bootleg tapes.

The personnel on the actual album were:


Mixed by Joni Mitchell, Henry Lewy and Steve Katz
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Personal Management: Elliot Roberts
Paintings by Joni Mitchell
Art Direction: Glen Christensen

Recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood by Henry Lewy and Steve Katz
Additional recordings at Electric Lady Studios, New York by Henry Lewy and Jerry Solomon

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Mingus by Joni Mitchell". Rate Your Music. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c 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. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 8, 2019 – via
  5. ^ The Rolling Stone Album Guide – Joni Mitchell
  6. ^ "Mingus". Retrieved June 27, 2013.