Monday, September 17, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico Reeds- MONEY JUNGLE < 50 years ago today! >

A classic album was recorded 50 years ago today! September 17- 1962 What an power trio: a legendary bandleader and composer, a pioneer bop drummer, and an unclassifiable bassist.On the jagged blues "Very Special," Ellington establishes a weighty mood while his piano work almost borders on free jazz. Roach's sticks dance 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 one of my favorite Ellington compositions "Fleurette Africaine," but simultaneously jarring and cerebral on the confrontational "Wig Wise." It's hard to believe only three people are creating. Ellington alone emphasizes the beautiful melodies of the classic ballads "Soltitude" and "Warm Valley," but the edge returns when the rhythm section joins him. You'd say the synergy was magical,but 50 years later as I listen to it today it is timeless- and probably will be that way in another 50.
If this is one of the first jazz albums you listen to, you will be thoroughly impressed with its virtuoso,it is a exceptional jazz album.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 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,a record that is hard-driving and forceful and 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.
And Duke? What can one say... In addition to being a wonderful soul, he was a very smart man.He didn't sign up with Mingus and Roach to dip his toes cautiously and quickly into some new horizons.For me one of the biggest reasons I love this recording all these years is when you play this record it takes you away, where I don't know,the outer nebula and beyond even that. Duke's piano doesn't let up. Nobody plays bass like Charlie Mingus and he's never played better than with these guys on this record. Max Roach is the quintessential bebop drummer, his tempo is his own and Duke and Charlie sound so fresh decades later.
These men are jazz, without them it wouldn't be.If you don't own this record- you need to.To pick one song here and call it my favorite would be impossible. These men, these players in this thing we call jazz, may have departed this mortal coil, but they play on. This music speaks louder than anything. It will forever was played and recorded by people who loved and respected the art form. Happy 50th gentlemen- thank you for the inspiration. ~~ Tim Price

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