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Money Jungle, Ellington, Mingus and Roach - A musical meeting of minds that packs an emotional punch,
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This review is from: Money Jungle (Audio CD)
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.