When Mingus died on January 5th this year, Mitchell continued writing and recording and finally finished in late spring.
Including tape recordings of Mingus' voice as segues between tracks, she eventually chose to simply title the album ' Mingus.' About marketing an all-jazz Joni Mitchell album, Elektra/Asylum Chairman of the Board Joe Smith says this: "She has taken a chunk out of her career and accomplished something truly monumental.
It's typical in this society that is so conscious of being number one and winning; the most you can really get out of it is a four-year run, just the same as in the political arena.
The first year, there's the courtship prior to the election – prior to, say, the first platinum album.
So if your goals end at a platinum album or being king or queen of your idiom, when you inevitably come down from that office, you're going to be heartbroken. Here was a chance to learn, from a legitimately great artist, about a brand new idiom that I had only been flirting with before. Every year, when I've completed a project, I ask myself, "What am I going to do now? So there was this search for another one, and he played me a lot of material.
" In the process of asking myself that question, a lot of possibilities come up. Mingus was a man who generally was difficult to get close to. Charles put on this one record, and just before he played it, he said, "Now this song has smokingest thing you ever heard, with all these melodies going on together.
Even the biggest pop performers usually become the victims of a fickle audience.
When I told this story to Joni Mitchell later, I could see the disappointment flicker across her face for an instant. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success.
"It's got good songs on it, but it's kind of like jazz." They bought a Cheap Trick album.
It was a professional partnership with a lot of affection. He used to tap dance in his family band with his father and mother. Informed of the time, Mitchell realizes with a familiar shudder that she is already an hour late for a hairdresser's appointment.
But one day I called him up and I said, "How are you, Charles? He was married to a white woman, traveling through the South in a time when that was just taboo. There are several more errands to be run before an evening photo session with Norman Seeff, and Mitchell invites the interview to continue along with her. So when we would try to work up songs together, we would bang into differences of opinion.