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4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 October 2006
This album was bought for me many years ago by a friend, and I have been listening to it ever since. The sessions were recorded in 1962 and feature Max Roach on Drums, Charlie Mingus on Bass and Duke Ellngton on the Piano.

Most of the material was written especially for the session and there are some wonderful compositions here. Like a lot of Ellingtons material they all sound deceptively simple. However my favourite track is their version of 'Caravan'. This is a thunderous version with Ellington playing the melody lower down the Piano than you would normally expect. Perhaps he did this just wind Mingus up - who knows. Anyway its a stunning performance by all 3 of them.

This is a must-have Jazz Trio album by Ellington, who is frequently forgotten when great Jazz Pianists are mentioned, because of his superb writing and arranging skills. This shows off his playing skills better than any other album I know.
0Comment24 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Being familiar with Duke Ellington recordings made in a big orchestra/band setting I was intrigued to listen to this album and see how he would fare in a small intimate setting of a trio. Added to which, what would happen when he teamed up with another of jazz's experimenting, boundary pushing voices, bass player Charles Mingus?

Working their way through a series of Ellington standards, and some material penned specifically for the session, this is a record that really delivers. The three mesh together beautifully, working up a synergy that really lifts these recordings to the level of greatness. Drummer Roach and bassist Mingus are a dream rhythm section, with complex beats that allow the Duke to step in with perfect keyboard interjections. There seems to be no egotistical vying for attention between the three, each is generous in giving the others the space to deliver solos. And when all three come together the result is breathtaking.

The material is well chosen for the intimate trio setting. My especial favourite is the recording of `Solitude'. Until I heard this record I had always believed Billie Holliday's recording to be the definitive, packed with all the emotional intensity that only she could deliver. But here, without words, the three players deliver a track so aching in its loneliness it brings a lump to the throat. The rest of the album has a variety of tempos and moods, from upbeat to slow and thoughtful. As always with anything involving Ellington there is a feeling of class and elegance, with a rich sonic texture that captures the imagination and paints vivid pictures in the mind's eye.

This is an excellent release from Blue Note, with a crisp clear sound that really lets each musician speak clearly. There are several alternate takes which really add to the album, and an interesting essay in the booklet. A great release for a really remarkable album.
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on 10 June 2008
What a wonderful and unique album this is. As the description notes, it's nominally a Duke Ellington album but all members of the trio are contributing something very special.

The term "piano trio" immediately makes me think of that most feared label "dinner jazz". I can already hear the glasses clinking, the cutlery scraping and the polite laughter whilst the piano tinkles away aimlessly in the background accompanied by a slow swish of brushed drums and the bassist giving a pedestrian performance reminding us why it's called "walking bass". Even true greats like Herbie Hancock can sound a little "nice" in the piano trio context. And yet this group could not be further from that image.

Ellington, Roach and Mingus are more like a rock power trio than anything that might be termed "background music". From the thunderous opening of the title track, onwards, the group grab and hold your attention, often in the most visceral way. However, that is not to say that there is a lack of subtlety or feeling, here. On many of the tracks, Ellington displays the feeling and lightness of touch which you associate with such a master of melody and arrangement.

The most fascinating thing about this record is the interplay between the three musicians. They do seem to be trying to outdo each other and seem almost to be playing "against" each other rather than "with" each other. This just builds the interest in the record, though and gives depth and range to the record and is one of the reasons why the record bears (possibly even needs) repeated listening. Every time I listen I hear something new and interesting. It is a record which slowly works its way into your mind and soul.

A worthy addition to any music lover's collection.
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on 4 October 2007
Oh, what an opening track! Ellington, Mingus, Roach; each doing their utmost to not only be the most impressive on the album, but to make more of an impact than the other two combined. The rest of the album is great, but it's all about the title track for me. Surely I can't be the only one that believes every note hit by Duke here is perfect? Check out the album cover too; Duke looking calm and collected, Max intriguingly peering to see what he was up to, and Charles seeming typically pensive in the background. Must have been a fun recording session!
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on 12 November 2000
This recording session in 1962 brought together three recognised masters of the art who were not generally mutually associated in the public mind.
Ellington's piano, usually understated in the orchestral context, is given more freedom here. Many pianists it seems (but not the Duke) failed to realise that silence is part of the music. Listen to him here ably and sensitively accompanied by Max Roach and Charlie Mingus in the dreamlike "Fleurette Africane". Each musician makes his presence felt but nobody tries to steal the show. You might compare it with the Cortot-Thibeau-Casals Trio of eighty years back.
"Caravan" is given a noir interpretation quite unlike any other with which I am familiar, demonstrating Ellington's power to delight and to surprise the listener. This capability never left him as those fortunate enough to possess his last(?) LP "This one's for Blanton" made with Ray Brown in December 1973 for the Pablo label will agree.
This is a disc to buy, even if you possess the original vynil. There are seven extra tracks, including an alternative "take" of "Solitude" that are so good one wonders why they never appeared on the LP. Having assisduously avoided duplicating my vynil collection, I had no hesitation in making this an exception.
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on 29 April 2005
One of these rare albums that start out by changing the way you think about music, and very soon begin to change the rest of your life as well. This is pure, raw, masterful stuff.
0Comment21 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Being familiar with Duke Ellington recordings made in a big orchestra/band setting I was intrigued to listen to this album and see how he would fare in a small intimate setting of a trio. Added to which, what would happen when he teamed up with another of jazz's experimenting, boundary pushing voices, bass player Charles Mingus?

Working their way through a series of Ellington standards, and some material penned specifically for the session, this is a record that really delivers. The three mesh together beautifully, working up a synergy that really lifts these recordings to the level of greatness. Drummer Roach and bassist Mingus are a dream rhythm section, with complex beats that allow the Duke to step in with perfect keyboard interjections. There seems to be no egotistical vying for attention between the three, each is generous in giving the others the space to deliver solos. And when all three come together the result is breathtaking.

The material is well chosen for the intimate trio setting. My especial favourite is the recording of `Solitude'. Until I heard this record I had always believed Billie Holliday's recording to be the definitive, packed with all the emotional intensity that only she could deliver. But here, without words, the three players deliver a track so aching in its loneliness it brings a lump to the throat. The rest of the album has a variety of tempos and moods, from upbeat to slow and thoughtful. As always with anything involving Ellington there is a feeling of class and elegance, with a rich sonic texture that captures the imagination and paints vivid pictures in the mind's eye.

A really remarkable album, 5 stars.
0Comment3 of 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Being familiar with Duke Ellington recordings made in a big orchestra/band setting I was intrigued to listen to this album and see how he would fare in a small intimate setting of a trio. Added to which, what would happen when he teamed up with another of jazz's experimenting, boundary pushing voices, bass player Charles Mingus?

Working their way through a series of Ellington standards, and some material penned specifically for the session, this is a record that really delivers. The three mesh together beautifully, working up a synergy that really lifts these recordings to the level of greatness. Drummer Roach and bassist Mingus are a dream rhythm section, with complex beats that allow the Duke to step in with perfect keyboard interjections. There seems to be no egotistical vying for attention between the three, each is generous in giving the others the space to deliver solos. And when all three come together the result is breathtaking.

The material is well chosen for the intimate trio setting. My especial favourite is the recording of `Solitude'. Until I heard this record I had always believed Billie Holliday's recording to be the definitive, packed with all the emotional intensity that only she could deliver. But here, without words, the three players deliver a track so aching in its loneliness it brings a lump to the throat. The rest of the album has a variety of tempos and moods, from upbeat to slow and thoughtful. As always with anything involving Ellington there is a feeling of class and elegance, with a rich sonic texture that captures the imagination and paints vivid pictures in the mind's eye.

A really remarkable album, 5 stars.
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on 4 February 2010
Recorded in 1962 for Blue Note, this trio session (Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach) is one of a kind. If my knowledge serves me correctly, this is the only time the three recorded together; so it is significant, but is it worth your money? Absolutely. For any jazz/blues fan this is a pleasure, a must own. Mingus's stylish, unique bass sound accompanied by Roach's exquisite, tantalizing drumming is a rhythm section to feast upon; and here they are really able to showcase their profound talents. Add Ellington's experienced soulful touch and you have an album that is impossible to criticize negatively. All tracks are composed by Ellington, varying from upbeat numbers such as: REM Blues, A Little Max, and Money Jungle; together with Ellington classics: Caravan, and Solitude. One outstanding track is Fluerette Africaine, a graceful and mysterious piece. Altogether, there are eleven short tracks with alternative takes of: Solitude, Switch Blade, A Little Max, and REM Blues; providing quite distinct alternatives. Overall an exceptional album - not a single bad track.
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on 22 June 2009
Oh boy;
this remarkable album really swings in a way you have rearly heard... The artists involved are uncompromised and masterful, the music is occasionally strange but always challenging and exciting.

Generally speaking, one probably wouldn't expect this combination of musicians to work, but their versatility and talents actually include the possability of collaborating with different sort of jazz artists, representatives of different styles... Ellington, Mingus and Roach prove with this album that they're among the greatest representatives of their respective instruments and magnificent composers, arrangers and improvisers.
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