'Pre-Bird' was recorded on May 24 & 25, 1960 for the Mercury label and is mainly a retrospective of Mingus's early career featuring music composed in the 1940s before Charlie Parker & the bebop revolution. The great bassist/composer assembled a nonet(on 5 tracks) and a 25-piece orchestra (on 3 tracks) performing compositions by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington and Mingus's early works including the impressive classically influenced 'Half-Mast Inhibition'. 'Eclipse'(written originally for Billie Holiday) and 'Weird Nightmare' feature haunting and passionate vocals from Lorraine Cusson. 'Prayer For Passive Resistance' is the only new work on the album with a tremendous preaching tenor solo from Yusef Lateef.
With more fine playing from Booker Ervin, Eric Dolphy, Paul Bley, Roland Hanna, Dannie Richmond and others 'Pre-Bird' is a varied, enjoyable and unusual Mingus album that deserves to be more widely known.