[Marxism] Some "Real" holiday music
sabocat59 at mac.com
Tue Dec 23 15:12:16 MST 2008
Review: Duke Ellington - Money Jungle (1962)
Filed Under Reviews
Duke Ellington. Charles Mingus. Max Roach.
Could you ask for a better trio, not at all.
In 1962, Duke Ellington’s period with Columbia Records was at an end
and this allowed Duke to work with musicians on a multitude of
labels. This includes great sessions with John Coltrane and Coleman
Hawkins, both which were released on Impluse, but the grand-daddy of
them all is Money Jungle.
Each of the three performers are at the top of their game; the Duke’s
composing and musicianship is marvelous as usual, Charles Mingus was
only a year away from releasing his historic album, The Black Saint
and the Sinner Lady and Max Roach had just recently released his
magnum opus We Insist! - Freedom Now Suite, an artifact both of jazz
and the civil rights movement. Along with being an album by an
amazing trio, Money Jungle, is also somewhat of a reunion Duke
Ellington - Money Jungle session. For Duke Ellington is playing with
the man (Charles Mingus) whom he fired after an altercation in which
Mingus pulled a gun on a fellow band mate. But, Mingus also had a
rich history with Max Roach for they were both part of and recorded
the historic Quintet at Massey Hall, that also included Charlie
Parker, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie, on their short lived Debut
Money Jungle starts off with an aggressive self-titled romp, in which
you find the Duke playing a complex form of bop more reminiscence of
free jazz than the work of Charlie Parker. The next track you’ll hear
the rhythm section (Mingus, Roach) sparsely as Duke Ellington takes
over on the beautiful and somewhat eerie, “Le Fleurs Africaines”. The
rest of Side A is less adventurous with one upbeat blues piece and
The opposite side starts off with “Wig Wise” another piece with an
angular melody that Ellington initially wrote in the 1950’s. This
song and another revamped rendition “Caravan” both find there way on
a Blue Note compilation of Ellington’s work (which is strange
considering he never recorded for Blue Note, but the major label
owning the work EMI released it under Blue Note for sales purposes).
Sadly the album, ends all too early with the sweet, but somber
Though only a little more than a half an hour, this album is a lovely
display of Duke Ellington’s non-big band prowess and 1960’s revival.
That is not to forget the wonderful work of Charles Mingus and Max
Roach, but throughout the entire album they seem timid in comparison
to their performances on other albums . Nevertheless, Money Jungle is
an absolute gem and I am a lucky man to have found an original United
Artist’s copy. It might be too cerebral and complex at first listen,
but if you take your time and give the album a fair chance you’ll
fall in love with it.
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