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Johnny Mayer, Blues Musician

Charles Mingus, Jazz Workshop, Johnny Mayer, aka Shmuel Meir

Charlie Mingus & Johnny Mayer

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 that 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 tune."

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

George Adams, Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, Shmuel Meir
George Adams, tenor, Shmuel Meir, guitar, pics by Howard Austen


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