Top positive review
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Money (Jungle), That's What I Want
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.