“Mingus at Monterey” (1964)

Charles Mingus Ellingtonian tour de force at the 7th Monterey Jazz Festival 1964. Hot on the heels of his European Tour, Mingus assembled a brass-heavy octet to perform selections of his spiritual father Duke Ellington (Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady and others) together with his own “Orange was the colour” and “Meditations on Integration” He was apparently give only a half hour performance time at Monterey, and material written for Monterey went on to be performed for the first time the following year at UCLA, possibly from where some of the music on this album must originate as there is more than a half hours worth on this double album. A mystery.

A great live recording which plunges you directly into the seven thousand strong crowd on a Sunday afternoon in Monterey, to experience the fearsome energy of Mingus and his ruthlessly-drilled octet. Mingus pressed a limited edition of LPs of the concert on his own label “Charles Mingus” records for mail order only, though this is the more widely available gatefold 1968  pressing, distributed by Fantasy Records.  Apparently Capitol, exasperated with Mingus, erased the original master tapes in 1971. If true this may explain why later reissues are such lacklustre pressings, being second or third generation derivatives and not mastered from original tapes.

Link (hat-tip Matty) to the troubled history of the Monterey tapes http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/charles-mingus-music-written-for-monterey-1965-not-heard . It seems there a both flipback and gatefold editions on Charles Mingus Records editions (hat-tip Dott. Jazz) and this is the 1968 gatefold edition (hat-tip Anders) Phew! Thats a lot of hat-tipping!

(UPDATE: Discogs identifies this pressing, with no date attributed
The runout matrix codes are the same (apart from an extra suffix number):
RR4M-5086-P1; RR4M-5087-P1; RR4M-5088-P1; RR4M-5089-P1
The cover and very blurred photo of the Jazz Workshop Charles Mingus label matches)

In any event, an essential addition to the bulging vinyl shelf groaning at the letter “M”: Mobley, Mclean, Monk, Mingus…

Here, Buddy Collette here describes the experience of working with Mingus at Monterey:

12 thoughts on ““Mingus at Monterey” (1964)

  1. Great point about the M’s. Thought it was just me. If I don’t have much time to dig at a record store, I just head straight to the “M” section. My Fab 5 includes your four, plus Lee Morgan.


    • Yeah, “Morgan” too, though that artists section is a little lighter in weight, due to being mainly Japanese pressings 😦

      In the electronic age I understand the advantage is with the front-end of the alphabet getting more views, hence the triple “AAA Cab Company” and “A1 Plumbing”. Probably also explains why Larry Young didn’t sell as well as he might.


  2. there is a second version, gatefold cover, stamped matrixes, with white cover and the same pic as first pressing, different from the one above. Not distributed by Fantasy, but by Mingus Enterprises.This went with an insert sheet but I don’t remember anything about it.
    anyway much better your issue than french or japanese.
    good catch.


  3. Looking in Goldmine price guide states 3 different releases with two Gatefolds and one single pocket.
    1. 1966 Gatefold with Color photo on front and “This album can only be purchased only by mail” – $300.
    2. 1966 Single pocket jacket Sepia photo on front. – $700 (strangely enough)
    3. 1968 Gatefold with Color photo on front and distributed by Fantasy. $60.

    It looks that you have a number three 😉

    What I don’t understand is why the edition limited to 200 (no 1) is worth less that the no 2???


    • Thanks Anders, at least I can hold by head up high, Fantasy distributed and a small “profit”. From a listening point of view rather than the collector view, my 3 should sound the same as 1, if they were pressed from the same Master.
      No2 looks like that referred to by the good Dott. If it has indications in the runout that include handwritten codes, then it may have different mastering origin.
      In any event, all three should have their origins in the original tapes that went on to be destroyed in 1971. Or is that just another theory waiting to be blown out?


    • Goldmine has the first 2 reversed. It was first released in the single pocket, then a more elaborate gatefold, and the third release is shown above and was distributed by fantasy. It appears the first 2 are the same pressing but Mingus had some nicer sleeves made and then began numbering them.


  4. So, not quite the first release. Oh well, it sounds pretty good never the less, and a huge amount better than the 70’s/80’s reissue I had previously, which was unlistenable. One thing I don’t understand, well two actually, the catalogue numbers are the very first of a series JWS01 and JWS02. Perhaps these are the first stereo releases on Mingus Records. Second is the source of the live performance: the 1964 Monterey session, or the 1965 UCLA session, or a mix of both, or something else?


    • From 1964. The following year is when Monterey cut down performance time, and Mingus later performed the music written for Monterey (1965 Monterey that is) in full at UCLA. Mingus also released this UCLA performance on his JWS label and a reissue was put out sometime in the 80’s by a label titled East Coasting (US releases). The numbering of Mingus’ JWS titles is strange. I think the numbering of each release followed the number of pressings each title had. So, the first release (the Monterey shown above) is 2 discs, hence JWS 1 and 2, and had 2 pressings, this is why the next release form JWS, that being their second release, is JWS 5, which is My Favorite Quintet. Their third release is the Town Hall Concert and is JWS 9, implying JWS 5 was pressed 4 times. The next release form JWS is JWS13/14, suggesting JWS 9 had 3 pressings. JWS 13/14 is the release I referred to above, and is titled Music Written For Monterey 1965, Not Heard, Played In Its Entirety At UCLA. This is the only logical thing I could come up with for the JWS numbering, the only slight piece of evidence I have is discogs does show 2 pressings for the first release. I know this thread is old, but if anyone sees this and can confirm of refute regarding the JWS numbering I’d be interested. Thanks.


  5. this record was only available by mail order from Charles Mingus Enterprises: it has a single fold sepia cover with a wide angle close-up view of the coast, a different notice on bottom back left and different credits on bottom right.
    one main difference is that matrixes on second record are both stamped and scratched.
    some time later it was issued as a gatefold cover as yours.
    a nice companion is: Music written for Monterey, 1965, not heard…played in its entirety , at UCLA
    double record on JWS 0013-0014 mail order only.
    I’ve run after them for more than 30 years and been lucky to find both in 2001.


  6. According to THIS super elaborate article, you have one of the 200 copies that Mingus ever pressed on his own label! At that time he didn’t have the means to press more copies. Six years later he did, but then it turned out that the tapes had been discarded. Anyway, just read it; it’s an article about “Music Written for Monterey, 1965. Not Heard…Played in Its Entirety, at UCLA”. So the music still exists on paper, but from the article it’s my assumption that only the very first 200 copies ever pressed on Mingus’ own label are the only copies made from the actual 1st generation masters. You must have one of those first 200 copies, ’cause this is what it says on the back of your copy: click here (and view in slide show). In other words: this must be the best available copy you can get. Where did you find it? 😉


    • The source was a small basement record store in Notting Hill. I drop by infrequently as in the past they have had only low price stock of 80’s reissues in their jazz section. But clearly they had picked up some items from a collection that was a peg above the usual stuf, as I found this Mingus label Monterey, Volumes 1 &2 of the Mingus in Europe Enja release, and an Enja double album release of Dolphy’s Berlin Concert 1964 (coming shortly to this blog) . One jazz fan selling off part of his vinyl collection? The Mingus Records Monterey double was priced at £30, same as a copy in another shop nearby on the French “America” label. I agonised over which to buy, and figured the Mingus label to be the more authentic. At the time you don’t know, just make your best guess.


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