Charlie Haden, entrevistado en el documental “Jazz” de Ken Burns, cuenta sobre sus primeras prsentaciones en New York junto a Ornette Coleman (saxo), Don Cherry (trompeta) y Billy Higgins (batería):
"Well, the very first we played, there were so many people there, and most of them were musicians. And I tell that story one day of, one of my students in my class asked me, “Why do you close your eyes when you play?” Well, the answer to that is for concentration. But I tell that story, The first night I played at the Five Spot, I was uncovering my bass, Billie was putting up his drums and Cherry was getting his horn, Ornette was getting his, his horn out and I looked up at the bar which was facing the stage and standing along the bar, was Wilbur Ware, Charlie Mingus, Paul Chambers, Percy Heath, every great bass player in New York City was standing there, staring me right in the face. And I said, from that moment on, I close my eyes. But anyway, it was really a very exciting, I mean it’s one of the most exciting things I can ever remember is the opening night at the Five Spot because no one had heard us play before, it was the first time. And they didn’t know what to expect. And we started to play and like, people’s mouths dropped and they listened and they couldn’t believe it. See, but we weren’t thinking about any of this stuff, we were just thinking about our music and playing the way we always played, you know. And the next night, more people came, the next night, I mean, every night, I think we played there for four months, six nights a week for four months and every night the place was packed. One night I was playing with my eyes closed again, and I’m playing and all of a sudden, I opened my eyes and somebody’s up on the stage with his ear to the f whole of my bass. And I looked over at Ornette and I said, I said, “Coleman, who is this, man, get him off this bandstand.” He says, “That’s Leonard Bernstein.” I said, “Oh.”"
When Charles Mingus was in his wheelchair, he listened to one of his most complex compositions Todo Modo for hours at a time. Soon nurse Daphne was humming it as well. “You see,” Mingus called from his chair, “if they played our music on the radio, people would hum us like The Beatles!”