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The pinnacle of Joni's career?
on 21 January 2005
This album was the culmination of a jazz journey than Joni Mitchell began in earnest on 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns'. It is curious that Mitchell is still most associated with innocent, folksy, acoustic singer-songwriter style of Both Sides Now, Woodstock and Big Yellow Taxi; the run of albums that began with 'Hissing' through 'Hejira' and 'Don Juan's Reckless Daughter' to 'Mingus' (with the summary coda of the equally excellent live recording, 'Shadows & Light') represent her most innovative and distinctive artistic period.
'Mingus' received a mixed reception on its release and some of the harsher criticism was obviously taken to heart by Mitchell who retreated to safer territory with the rockier and stodgier 'Wild Things Run Fast' and two more disappointing releases ('Dog Eat Dog' & 'Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm'). It was nearly ten years on from 'Mingus' before Mitchell again made a record that was true to her soul, 'Night Ride Home'.
'Mingus' deserved a better reception; regardless of the respective legacies of Charles Mingus and Joni Mitchell, it is a collection seriously beautiful music, as rich in composition, lyricism and musicianship as you should expect from the team of artists gathered together here.
If 'Mingus' had been received as the masterpiece that it is, Mitchell would have continued along a creative path that she had only just begun to explore and would still be running now. For this reason, 'Mingus' can be justly be described as the high point of Mitchell's outstanding career.