Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and Duke Ellington
Money Jungle


5.0
classic

Review

by butcherboy USER (123 Reviews)
March 27th, 2018 | 36 replies


Release Date: 1963 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Upheaval, always upheaval..

At the tail end of 1962, when he was finally released from his draconian contract with Columbia that had
restricted him from working with anyone but label-mates and subsidiary artists, Duke Ellington
went on a collaborative binge, striking up alliances with Coltrane, Hawkins and a number of bebop icons
that had previously eluded him. And so, in September of that year, United Artists commissioned him to enter
the studio with Max Roach and Charles Mingus and record an album of barebones jazz that would become
a small wonder of abstracted expression, sodden in the clamour of a hostile encounter.

Money Jungle catches the trio at the zenith of each their individual prowess. Roach was in the middle of
a hot hand, having just released the fiery protest album We Insist!, and Mingus was a mere year away from
penning The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, an architectural masterpiece that would see him meld bebop with
classical and ballet patterns, as well as skeletal avant-garde hard lines. The two notoriously
tempestuous players coming into the studio with Ellington immediately created an air of infamy around the
sessions. Expectations for melodrama were well-founded. Ellington had previously fired Mingus
from a recording studio, due to the bassist's erratic behaviour, and Mingus' and Roach's past team-up at Massey Hall
had been streaked in similarly combative notes. That agitation didn't let up during the recording of Money Jungle,
with Mingus purportedly storming out midway through the sessions.

All that disregard and tumult form the spine and soul of the LP. It feels less a collaboration and more
a sustained power struggle, with all three times sometimes pulling a piece into utterly separate narratives.
It is also what makes Money Jungle such a singular show-stopper. Pieces like "Wig Wise" and the re-workings
of "Caravan" and "Solitude" are unsettled and move only in fits; and these terse, nervy compositions exist in a space
of complete turmoil, Ellington's primary writing usurped and mutated by his co-pilots.

In a small room stacked with such talent, Mingus and his disjointedly powerful primal playing are what thrusts
Money Jungle into post-bop territory. In the final act of the self-titled opener, he lays into the double bass with
such force, that the rhythm veers off on bent trajectories, projecting a sound that closer resembles a detuned guitar.
Without any horns to set a hanging mood, he also becomes the sole driver of atmosphere, and on "Fleurette Africaine,"
his bass-line takes on a dreamily sinister tone, free-floating, seemingly untethered from reality.
"Switch Blade" (Blue Note re-issue track) also sees him run in step with Ellington,
mirroring the pianist's counter-melodies, as Roach pummels the bass, snare and cymbal
to the point that a feeling of coordinated madness permeates the listener. The best aspects of Mingus' MO,
splicing modernity into his stubborn modernism, manage to rise above the strife surrounding the album's recording,
elevating it to something bigger and much more difficult.

Not to be outdone by new rising genius, Ellington lets loose here, taking on wild tangents, sporadic solos,
and angular pathways that drift off the rhythm section, completing Money Jungle's off-kilter swing. It is
Roach that strangely becomes the steadfast foundation of the LP, and though he displays plenty of his patented
frenzies, there are moments when he opts for the understated, grounding pieces
that would otherwise splinter into sheer chaos.

Though the trio had initially been signed to a two-album deal, a second outing was predictably scrapped, as the
three refused to get together again. In ways, that only adds to the myth of Money Jungle, an
in-replicable one-off entity, beauty that's viable to detonate at any given second.



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user ratings (79)
Chart.
4.2
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think i'm going to use this formatting for the jazz reviews.. I like how wonky it is.. first 5 review too, I think..

Papa Universe
March 27th 2018


20041 Comments


testament to how little I know about jazz. you beautiful bastard, have a mind POS

Digging: Pedigree - New Freak

Asdfp277
March 27th 2018


19660 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice phrase metrics

bgillesp
March 27th 2018


6710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These was an entry for this on Duke Ellingtons page already. They should get merged. Anyway awesome review and awesome album

bgillesp
March 27th 2018


6710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This one had so many release versions with different track listings if I remember correctly. Which one do you consider the best?

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Blue Note re-issue has all the unreleased tracks combined with the original pressing.. i'd rep that one..

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

also, cheers, gilly.. I think given the talent here, this should be a separate page rather than classified under the ellington page, but we'll see what the mods decide..

SandwichBubble
March 27th 2018


9335 Comments


Hey

Digging: Samara Lubelski - In The Valley

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hallooooooo

SandwichBubble
March 27th 2018


9335 Comments


So since you're very choosy with your 5.0s, I'm guessing this is worth checking

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

please listen and please rate 5 please..

MotokoKusanagi
March 27th 2018


1737 Comments


glad this got a review. title track is a classic. also the whole story behind the recording sessions with Mingus and Roach makes things more interesting. Mingus was such a hot head. also definitely work picking up the 2002 remaster for the extra trax

Digging: DJ Central - Li'ud

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yea, I think he encapsulated all the grand and horrid things of proper artistic passion..

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2018


18531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fix

the formatting

O

m

ggggggggggple

asean

dthank you

.

Digging: Jason Molina - Pyramid Electric Co.

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

but i

like it, look

how pret-

-ty..

Papa Universe
March 27th 2018


20041 Comments


butch still ain't off his haiku phase

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

stephane Mallarme is the poet who first started using this poetic style..

Papa Universe
March 27th 2018


20041 Comments


and which one might that be?

butcherboy
March 27th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

random breaks in phrasing, line breaks and what have you.. to be fair, i make this happen by using wordpad and pressing space randomly, and then pasting it into sputnik's small typeframe..

brainmelter
March 27th 2018


6266 Comments


absolute class

Digging: Aethyrvorous - Demo



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