Charlie Mingus and Eddie Bert

Mingus, Bert, and Jimmy Knepper - 1960 recording of Pre-Bird

Eddie first met the fiery bassist in "San Francisco when I was with Benny Goodman; I remember Clyde Lombardi saying that we just had to see this bass player who was at the International Quarter in a group with four basses and drums. We went and there was Charlie playing lead bass! When we both got back to New York I started rehearsing and working with Mingus' Jazz Workshop along with Art Farmer, John LaPorta, Teo Macero and Teddy Charles and I found that as long as you did the right thing, you could get along with Mingus."

In 1955, he recorded with Mingus at "the Cafe Bohemia when he was starting to formulate his ideas. George Barrow, Mal Waldron, Willie Jones and I would go to his house where he would play something on the piano, which we had to learn by rote because he wouldn't write it down. He felt that instead of just reading the music, you could get more feeling into a piece when you have it in your head. The funny thing is when Fantasy included the Bohemia material on a twelve CD box set it released a few years, there were eleven previously unissued titles, so I called them and asked for a cassette to be made of the unissued material for me, because I played on it. But they wouldn't do it; they wanted me to buy the whole set for one hundred and seventy five dollars, which I really did not want to do. Eventually they agreed to sell me the box set for sixty dollars. When I checked in my notebook, I realized that's what I was paid for the original date, sixty dollars!"

Eddie also hired Mingus to play with his own group. "One night at Birdland," he recalls, "Clyde couldn't make it so I hired Charlie Mingus. I was giving Oscar Goodstein the list of musicians and when I told him Charlie Mingus would be on bass, he said, 'No, you can't use him. He just knocked a the cop down the stairs and he's barred from Birdland.' I called Mingus and told him I couldn't use him because of what had happened. He asked, 'You want me to play with you?' 'Of course!' So he called Morris Levy, the owner, and got permission to work. On the gig, after the first set, Mingus came over and said, 'What's the matter with this band? Nobody argues!'