Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach

Jazz Sides

Phases and Stages

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach

Money Jungle (Blue Note) It has been hailed by some as "one of the greatest piano trio recordings in jazz history," but no matter what your take is on this historic reissue from 1962, Money Jungle commands attention for no other reason than it brought together a triumvirate of jazz giants for a one-off session that created music of roiling turbulence and delicate beauty. Also noteworthy is the fact that throughout his unparalleled, 50-year career, Duke Ellington rarely recorded in a trio setting, let alone one of this caliber. The session originally appeared on the now-long-defunct United Artist imprint, recorded between Ellington's masterful Impulse albums with Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane, and features an all-Ellington program of evergreens, unusually modernist compositions, and unremarkable blues. Drummer Max Roach once told me about the friction that accompanied the recording: how Ellington invited the others to bring individual compositions, then used only his own, and how he and bassist Charles Mingus had to fight for every inch of solo space. Roach described Mingus, a volatile time bomb under the best circumstances, at one point storming out of the session, and that it took Ellington's fatherly arm-around-the-shoulder and soothing words of praise and encouragement to bring the tearful titan back into the studio to complete the date. This "creative tension" is felt most acutely on the title track and on a tumultuous version of "Caravan," Ellington's uncharacteristically percussive syncopations keeping barely ahead of the thundering onslaught of Mingus and Roach. The trio also fashions beautifully complimentary renderings of Ellingtonia on "Solitude," "Fleurette Africaine," and "Warm Valley." Anyone doubting Ellington's prowess as an instrumentalist will be duly impressed by the command of his playing and the modernity of his ideas. After 40 years, Money Jungle stands, more than ever, as a masterful meeting of jazz royalty.

****.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Young Mothers
Morose (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Sept. 7, 2018

Texas Platters
Zack Varner
Blues in the Nude (Record Review)

Jeremy Steinberger, Aug. 24, 2018

More by Jay Trachtenberg
Review: <i>Lake Success</i>
Review: Lake Success
Gary Shteyngart's novel takes a witty bite out of the 0.01%

Sept. 13, 2018

<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Sept. 14, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle