Charlie Mingus... "I was a Mingus junky since the first time I layed eyes on the cover of his Blues and Roots album when I was
fifteen years old. I always dreamed that one day I would join his
band, and I did on a hot summer's night in Milwaukee..
The Workshop included George Adams on saxaphone, Don Pullen,
piano, Hank Walrath, trumpet and Danny Richmond, drums.I had met
George Adams at the musician's union in NY and stayed in touch
with him. Although George had never heard me play, he asked
Mingus if I could sit in ... and Mingus looked at me (actually
right threw me) and said something which I took to mean yes.
After the intermission, Mingus called the band back on stage
and invited me up to play. I didn't have a guitar amp so he let
me plug in through his bass amp. Then he announced the names of
the members of the band and said "And John Mayer ... for one
The tune was Flowers For a Lady, a nice, relaxed Latin
piece by George Adams who gave me the chord changes. As I got on
stage, I recalled something a friend of mine Dave Kasic told me
after hearing people sit in with Mingus in New York city. He
said, "Either Mingus changes keys in the middle of the song or
play it so fast the guy sitting in makes a fool of himself."
But it was too late. Charlie counted off a wicked tempo and
WEEEEE, off we went ... First they played the head twice, then
Don Pullen soloed followed by Jack Walrath ... then Mingus
pointed at me and said "Now!"
And what luck that photographer Howard Austin was there to
capture the moment! " Milwaukee, WI, June 5, 1975
By Johnny Mayer.
George Adams, tenor sax, Johnny Mayer,
Photo's by Howard Austen.