CT 509 Van Lingle Mongo – Dave Frishberg
Side A: Van Lingle Mungo (2:45)
Side B: Nasty Nasty Habit (2:25)
(from Oklahoma Toad)
Issues: CTI CT 509 
Master No.: CT 509 A/CT 509 B
Recorded: Prob. late 1969. Associated Recording Studios in New York; CTI release re-engineered and overdubbed by Rudy Van Gelder, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Released: Prob. August 15th, 1970; runout etchings on the promo version are etched with 7-27-70, the album released earlier, prob. July with run out etchings 6-18-70.
Two known US pressings, double sided white promo release with “Van Lingle Mungo“, with tracks, labels and run outs identical. Green label general release with “Van Lingle Mongo” A-side, and “Nasty Nasty Habit“. It’s my guess that the green label version was released before the promo. If you have a copy, please leave a comment with the etching content from the A/B side runouts in the center of the 45/single.
The single, like the album, was not produced by Creed Taylor. The tracks for the album had been recorded by producers David Rosner and Margo Guryan, and bought to Creed as a master for release and distribution. This was the same as CT 506 John Martine – Train Station with the same producers, David Rosner/Margo Guryan. For information on them and their early involvement with CTI, see CT 1000 – The “popular” label.
By 1969, Frishberg was unlikely to be a newcomer to Creed Taylor, Frishberg had been in New York for some 10-years by 1969. During that time he’d been an successful sideman, as a pianist, and for a period the house pianist at the Half Note club in New York.
For a more detailed look at Frishberg, see “Oklahoma Toad – Dave Frishberg“.
The song is simply a list of baseball players names, fitted sonically to music. It’s hugely nostalgic and garnered much attention in the still baseball mad north east USA in 1969/70.
Much of the confusion about the dates of release are likely based on Stan Fischler’s 1977 book “The best, worst and most unusual in sports” and is repeated elsewhere.
Best Baseball Jazz Work. “Van Lingle Mungo” by Dave Frishberg. Originally pressed as a single record by pianist Frishberg, “Van Lingle Mungo” later was incorporated in a long-playing record album by Frishberg called Oklahoma Toad.” The subject of Frishberg’s original success, Mungo, pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers, all of which is incidental to the tune. On the record, pressed by the CTI label in Rockefeller Center, New York, Frishberg, with a sparkling jazz background, reels off a list of old-time ballplayers including “Big” John Mize, Barney McKoskey and, of course, the ever popular Mungo.
Jazz critic and author Ira Gitler rated Frishberg’s opus “one of the best jazz works of the seventies and certainly the best ever done combining jazz and baseball. ” Gitler, a lifetime Giants fan, added that the fact that Mungo earned his fame as a Dodger did not detract from the record’s worth.
The tune, done to a bossa nova beat, also appeared in sheet music (Red Day Music, a division of Daramus, Inc.) when the song was released in 1969. Frishberg, who wrote both the words and music, received raves from all reviewers, although the piece received little promotion.
“Van Lingle Mungo” became one of the defining songs of Frishberg’s amazing output and part of his signature sound. In 1970, in the still baseball crazy north east, bought Dave numerous TV appearances, including the late night Dick Cavett show, and the CBS Comedy Tonight show. The song would also inspire competitions.
Jazz and People’s Movement
Around that time there were even protests going on about the lack of jazz and black musicians on TV, and in October, the “Jazz and People’s Movement” started to disrupt show recordings, including Cavetts, obviously Frishberg performing “Van Lingle Mungo” fitted their complaint to a T, a white performer doing an entertaining song.
Mrs. Roland Kirk, Cecil Taylor, Freddie Hubbard, Billy Harper, and Andrew Cyrille appeared with Cavett. Mrs. Kirk read an endorsement of the JPM’s cause by Operation Breadbasket.down beat Magazine, November 26th, 1970 – Page 8
The half-hour discussion ranged widely, but the central point made was that commercial TV ignores jazz unless it has entertainment value. The JPM is currently negotiating with the three major networks and the Ed Sullivan Show, a promise of more to come
Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players
Frishberg’s song took on a life of it’s own. Frishberg a lifelong baseball fan, and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (which Frishberg joined in 1984) was immortalized in their 2014 book, edited by Bill Nowlin. See More Info for a link to the full SABR interview.
The musical “keynote” address was delivered by four-time
Grammy award nominee, pianist/composer David Frishberg. This
was a big treat for me, especially when Frishberg played my favorite
baseball song, the nostalgic “Van Lingle Mungo,” which is simply
the names of players from the 30s and 40s sung to a haunting
refrain. I had first heard the tune in the early 70s when I was a TV
sportscaster, and I rounded up baseball cards of all the players in the
song, shot film of them being shuffled by a kid, and edited the film
to match the song. I always played that piece on Opening Day of the
baseball season. Of course, I’d sent Frishberg a copy And it was
wonderful to see him after all these years.
Frishberg told a funny story about an appearance he had madeFoul Ball – Jim Bouton, Page-132 – ISBN-10: 0970911718
on the Dick Cavett show with Van Lingle Mungo himself, shortly
after the song came out. The hulking former Dodger pitcher said to
him, So, when am gong to start seeng some money from this,
anyway? Frishberg told Mungo that to make money he’d have to
write a song about Frishberg. Frishberg, a skinny fellow said he was
lucky he wasn’t decked by the big right-hander.
CTI and The Producers Mix
Over the years, Frishberg both recorded the track multiple times, and also, retrospectively changed the names of some of the players. In addition, as released, the 45/single and the album were not just the Rosner/Guryan initial recording. Taylor took the tapes and worked with Rudy Van Gelder to produce a CTI mix. How did the final mix change? Using my vinyl copy of the album, this is a comparison of the track “Van Lingle Mungo“. The first two samples are where you can hear the difference. The first 30-seconds are the Rosner/Guryan mix; the second the Taylor/CTI mix, followed by two more 30-second samples of later Frishberg recordings, The third sample is from the 1991 Concord Jazz, “Dave Frishberg Classics CD“; and the fourth from the 2006 Arbors Records, “Dave Frishberg Retromania CD” [links to these can be found via the discography]
The wave form shows perfectly that the Taylor/CTI rendition is more dense, richer, and how overtime, almost 36-years, Frishbergs treatment has almost become a vocal only, with a little tinkering on the keys. If you hear the track on almost any streaming service, you are hearing the Rosner/Guryan mix rather than the CTI mix. For more information on this, see Oklahoma Toad – Dave Frishberg.
No known samples; covered by Sue Raney; John Gross, Putter Smith, Larry Koonse on their album Three Play;
Van Lingle Mungo 45/single [via discogs master release]
SABR bio and Interview with Dave Frishberg [via sabr.org]
My Dear Departed Past – Dave Frishberg memoir/biography. ISBN 978-1-4950-7130-0
Dave Frishberg [via wikipedia]
Van Lingle Mungo [via wikipedia]
Dave Frishberg website [via davefrisberg.net]
Jazz and The People’s Movement [via doc.uments.com]