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Money Jungle Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.7 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Money Jungle
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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, July 16, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Like Ellington's "Piano in the Foreground", "Money Jungle" is a trio recording in this case featuring Charlie Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. Recorded in Sept., 1962. 200 gram vinyl.

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What an alliance: a legendary bandleader and composer, a pioneering bop drummer, and an unclassifiable (and often prickly) bass behemoth. It's no wonder that the tension between Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charlie Mingus is thick and extremely tangible, permeating this breathtaking 1962 album with passion and aggression. On the jagged blues "Very Special," Ellington establishes a weighty mood while his piano work almost borders on free jazz. Roach's sticks dance and prance across every inch of his kit on "A Little Max"; on "Caravan" he effectively shifts from exotic rhythms to straight time. Duke's harmonic invention is delicate and mysterious on "Fleurette Africaine," but simultaneously jarring and cerebral on the confrontational "Wig Wise." It's hard to believe only three people are creating the stomping, disjointed monster that is the title track. Ellington alone emphasizes the beautiful melodies of the classic ballads "Soltitude" and "Warm Valley," but the edge returns when the rhythm section joins him. Mingus, who actually idolized Ellington, seems to be purposely agitating the master, almost taunting him. You'd say the synergy was magical, except that they seem to be working against each other. --Marc Greilsamer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 1962
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B0000691U1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,368 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Duke is the king. He was huge. Too much recent writing bogs down in arguments whether Strayhorn got enough credit, whether Hodges or Nanton or Williams were showcased properly. These writers, came to the banquet late, and are squabbling over table scraps. Ellington dominated the jazz world from the mid-1920s until he died in 1974. Ellington was the vanguard. This CD is one to prove it.
The year is 1962. Big bands are dinosaurs. Ellington's orchestra still performs, but dance hall venues of the 30s and 40s went out with the war. He's been doing studio work, some with the band, some with smaller ensembles. Everyone wants to record with the Duke. This time out he's with the angriest man in jazz, Charlie Mingus, the Black Saint himself. How did they do? Unbelievable.
Here's Duke, elegant, sophisticated, and smooth. He plays piano in the parlor. Probably in the Hamptons. Max Roach accompanies discreetly with brushes and cymbals. You can almost hear the whispers of liveried waiters circulating with champagne and canapés. But beneath this frothy party, up through the floorboards, comes a rumbling, and a thumping. Not a guest at the party, what you hear is an unpresentable, dangerous member of the family. Locked away for the night, he's Charlie Mingus, the beast in the basement, down there, pounding away at the foundations.
Max reacts. Brushes, cymbals and the quiet pretense of elegance, give way to sticks and traps and a harder edge- "Duke," he says, "Duke, you hear that?" The Duke doesn't answer right away. It's like maybe he didn't hear it, but then, when he answers, he answers with a discord. "Is that what you mean?" Another discord, "You mean that?" "Yeah, Duke, that's it. That's what I mean."
Bit by bit Duke and Max pick up Charlie's themes.
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
You know, there are some albums that you pretty much think have to be good, and you have these enormously high expectations for them. And more often than not, they don't quite live up to them.

"Money Jungle" is one of the exceptions to that rule. A dream meeting-- bandleader Duke Ellington sits at the piano, generously supported by his compositional heir in bassist Charles Mingus and sublime bop drummer Max Roach. With this backing, Ellington is inspired in a far more assertive light than he is usually found as Mingus and Roach push him along. Mingus is downright aggressive and perhaps even angry throughout the proceedings-- check his playing "Money Jungle", where he occasioanlly switches from his swing to an aggressive repetitive figure, as if daring his collaborators to drift outside of the swing (they don't), or his fierceness on "Wig Wise" in sharp contrast to Ellington's light and bouncey touch. Somehow, Roach, often considered the most lyrical of drummers, finds a way to negotiate through this and keep the tension between Ellington and Mingus to a boil.

The entire record is pretty much a highlight-- from the fluttering bass of "Fleurette Africaine" (echoed by Ellington and Roach) to Ellington's beautiful revisitation of "Solitude" (in my favorite reading of the piece) to the straight blues of "REM Blues", there's not a bad cut on here, although I suspect anybody deeply rooted in the swing tradition will find the playing a bit out of character, and certainly Ellington is inspired into a different light by his younger protegees.

Nonetheless, as far as jazz records go, this one is pretty much indispensible. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of the truly great albums, an album that epitomizes the great preoccupations of jazz--the breaking down and building back up, the fighting between the old and new schools. It is also more evidence of the Duke's continued reign as undisputed champ of music in America; he was willing to do anything, go anywhere. And so he followed Mingus and Max Roach into their world, and what may have turned into a sort of gang initiation for any other musician becomes an all-out musical brawl, a record that is hard-driving and forceful and unpolished but still beautiful. It's not surprising that Mingus, in the presence of Ellington, plays as well as he ever has. No matter how far Mingus reached, no matter how experimental he got, he came from Duke, and worshipped Duke (even though he was the only man Duke had ever fired), and this anxiety is palpable all through this record. And Duke? What can one say... In addition to being a wonderful soul, he was a very smart man, and knew quite well that he was not Bud Powell or Oscar Peterson, and he doesn't try to be, he doesn't need to be. He didn't sign up with Mingus and Roach for a gag, to dip his toes cautiously and quickly into the bebop waters. He wanted--like all great artists--to challenge and to be challenged. So it is not terribly surprising that he sounds at times like Thelonious (another who was deeply touched by Duke)--angular, sparse, very rhythmic. This is above all else a confrontation of styles and ideas and personalities. It is musical interplay at its most complex because it plays off of what we know and what we expect from these musicians, reaching and eventually exceeding those expectations.
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