It had been years since Joni Mitchell took her music on tour with a band of her own. She had been seen with Bob Dylan's "Rolling Thunder Revue", and she had been an important part of "The Band's Last Waltz", but virtually her only communication with her own audience had been on four demanding, increasingly abstract, increasingly jazz-flavored albums: "The Hissing of Summer Lawns", "Hejira", "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter", and the new "Mingus".
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