|Released 40 years ago but unavailable on CD until today, the title immediately announces the trials and tribulations that led to this extraordinary concert, summing up its original intent (“music written for Monterey”), the failure of that event (“not played”) and the triumphant closing chapter (“performed at UCLA”) which premiered a large body of compositions Mingus had been working on all year for the Monterey Jazz Festival, that found its true audience at a college concert the following week.
It is an unvarnished behind-the-scenes look at the struggle Charles Mingus sometimes faced in his efforts to get his demanding compositions performed. It includes musical confrontations on stage, the difficulties band members experienced with brand new music, his own furies and, ultimately, his refusal to edit out the warts, to tell it like it was. This fearless exposure of the creative process in all its contradictions had led earlier to his concept of the jazz workshops—performances on stage in which the trials and errors of creating music were presented to viewers, unedited. He understood both the fascination for an intelligent audience and the pragmatic reality that by calling his performances workshops, he was able to rehearse his complex works on stage with impunity before a paying audience.