[Marxism] Some "Real" holiday music

Greg McDonald 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  
lovely ballad.

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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