Jack Walrath on "Me, Myself An Eye"

The following was published in Chords and Dischords section of the Downbeat magazine in June 21, 1979:

In the review of the Charles Mingus record Me, Myself An Eye the reviewer was understandably vague as to what my contribution was in regard to the writing credits on the album. The quote, "all arrangements and orchestrations were realized by Jack Walrath under the supervision of and as dictated by Charles Mingus, in person and through the use of tapes and piano sketches," seems to imply that I was simply the copyist. In view of such descriptions of the music in media as "lasting work of genius," "monumental," etc., I think I should set the record straight as to what I actually did.

I told Mingus that all I wanted was credit for arranging and orchestration.

For Three Worlds Of Drums, Charles gave me a tape of himself noodling on a Moorish-sounding scale and said to me, "Pick out some of my notes, organize a melody and write an arrangement on it." This I did, plus wrote an introduction of my own invention, a background which is a four-part fugue, set the form and wrote the ensembles for the drum solos. The shout chorus was a melody which Mingus wrote and to which I kept adding counter lines until at one point the music breaks into five-part counterpoint. The trumpet-soprano melody near the end was organized the same as the initial melody, "take some of my notes...", etc., the funeral ending I transcribed from a piano tape. He visualized the work as a bebop tune, which when played in rehearsal was a disaster, so I had the band play the quasi-Latin-rock-bellydance rhythm as is heard. All in all Mingus supplied me with one lead line, loose sketches for two more, a six bar ending and a basic chord consisting of two perfect 5th's a half-step apart sounded simultaneously. I wrote 75 score pages of music or approximately 95% of the compositon.

Carolyn "Keki" Mingus was orchestrated practically verbatim from his piano score except the out chorus which are my voicings and arrangement.

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting was written according to his instructions except the out chorus which are my voicings and arrangement.

Devil Woman was totally my arrangement and was written while Charles was in Woodstock and I was in Manhattan. He said he wanted a slow blues. Neither did he hear the arrangement nor did he even know that I picked Devil Woman until two days before the session.

I am in no way trying to discredit the talent of one of the great composers of any kind of music of any era, but I think that I have shown more fairness to Mingus, his executors, and the record company than they did to me. I was denied entrance to the mix, which would probably have been better had I been there, since I was the only one who really knew what was happening in the music.

Jack Walrath, New York City