When Mingus met Mitchell

Matthew Barton considers the sometimes fraught transformation of Mingus's farewell project at the hands of iconoclast Joni Mitchell

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Peter Erskine, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius and Herbie Hancock. Photo courtesy Peter Erskine
"Charles Mingus, a musical mystic, died in Mexico, January 5, 1979 at the age of 56. He was cremated the next day. That same day 56 sperm whales beached themselves on the Mexican coastline and were removed by fire. These are the coincidences that thrill my imagination" So read Joni Mitchell's liner notes on the 1979 LP that bears Mingus's name, in a marker of the kind of eccentric coincidences and twists of fate that characterised this unusual project. Ming
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