Written by Becca Pulliam from WBGO-FM
Money Jungle has a story. One day in 1962, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach recorded an album and gave it that provocative title. The repertoire was new blues by Ellington, who was in his 60s, while Roach and Mingus were each about 40. As George Wein wrote in the liner notes to the LP, they were a triumvirate, not a trio.
Terri Lyne Carrington was born in 1965 into a family of jazz musicians in Boston; drums were her destiny. By her teens, Carrington had played with Clark Terry and Buddy Rich. On the new album, there’s a photo of her young self playing drums as Max Roach looks on. Now a Grammy winner working at a creative peak, Carrington is full of ideas, as well as the skill and sophistication to realize them.
So, when she found Money Jungle in a music store’s discount bin, her reaction was to think she could do something with this music. It’s a heavy dream, as Carrington herself has said: “When you start rearranging Duke Ellington, you better feel good about it.”
In her new take on the title tune, “Money Jungle,” she inserts spoken word from historical and contemporary sources over a pulsating, unforgettable beat. (Remember that in the late 1920s, people called Ellington’s music “jungle music.”) She has narrator Shea Rose introduce Ellington’s movements for his bandmates — “A Little Max” and “Switch Blade” — with a short biography and quote from each. Guest pianist Gerald Clayton contributes “Cut Off” for Ellington, and Clayton’s piano moves this music forward with confidence. (Incidentally, Clayton has his own new album, Life Forum, with vocals and spoken word.)
Duke Ellington’s words from various sources conclude Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue with a prophesy:
I think jazz will be listened to by the same people who listen to it now: those who like creative things, whether they understand them or not. If it is accepted as an art, it is the same as any other art. The popularity of it doesn’t matter, doesn’t mean anything, because when you get into the popularity, then you’re talking about money, not music.
- “Money Jungle”
- “Fleurette Africain”
- “Backward Country Boy Blues”
- “Very Special”
- “Grass Roots” (Carrington)
- “A Little Max”
- “Switch Blade”
- “Cut Off” (Clayton)
Music composed by Duke Ellington and arranged by Carrington, except as noted.
- Terri Lyne Carrington, drums
- Gerald Clayton, piano
- Zach Brown, bass
- Shea Rose, narrator and vocals
- Joanna Teters, vocals
- Asher Kurtz, guitar
- Edmar Colon, flute and tenor
- Eitan Gofman, flute
- John Egizi, trombone
- Grant Richards, keyboards
- Sergio Martinez and Leonardo Osuna Sosa, percussion
- Gabriela Jimeno, computers
This concert was performed in one continuous flow; we have edited it to fit the JazzSet format. It was presented on Feb. 14, 2013, as part of the Signature Series at Berklee College of Music in Boston, sponsored by the Office of External Affairs and Africana Studies in the Liberal Arts Department. The performance was produced by Tom Riley and Rob Rose, and made available to JazzSet by Rob Hayes and recording engineer Alejandro Rodriguez. Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.