Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Duke Ellington with Charles Mingus and Max Roach - Money Jungle (1962)

Instead of Charlie Mingus and Max Roach being at the beck-and-call of a then already legendary Duke Ellington; it's sort of the other way around, and you can hear that right off the bat with the opening (and title) track on this awesome collaboration album. Mingus and Roach both had tremendous egos, as they were the young, hot-shot composers/band leaders on the scene, just coming into their prime at the time of this recording. And nobody ever second-guessed the Duke, so for all three to put their egos aside and let creativity take over makes for an amazing listen right here.

Ellington has been primarily known for his swinging big band music, so for him to join up with two hard bop legends was certainly a stretch for him; he actually shows his chops, and he's really an under-rated pianist (he let Billy Strayhorn do most of the work for the 30 years they played together in his orchestra). Let's face it, as a ballad writer The Duke was unrivaled for decades, likewise with swing and that big band Cotton Club stuff; but as bebop and eventually hard bop would take over the jazz-scape, he was more or less pushed aside. This was his way of catching up with the pack, and it's a creative high point for the man.

I've already posted a Mingus album (1963's The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady) and I'll eventually get around to posting a Max Roach-Clifford Brown album in the near future, but for now, here's the 2002 re-mastered edition with alternate takes...


icastico said...

Money Jungle is truly one of the greatest albums ever.

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