The dramatic character of this album’s title track tells you from the start that few trio jam sessions have ever carried so much weight. Recorded in 1962, it brought together three definitive leaders in this field we call jazz. Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach interpreted a program of swinging Ellington material. His “Money Jungle,” “African Flower,” “Very Special” and “Wig Wise” were introduced to the listening public for the first time with this LP. Blue Note has added additional material from the same recording session, some of which was previously unissued. “Caravan” finds Mingus emoting in lyrical fashion while walking the bass forcefully. Roach drives the classic tune straight ahead while Ellington reaches down to obtain the majestic harmonic formula originally intended. “Switch Blade” has a trademark Mingus intro that sets the mood for a slow, nightingale-like piano swinger. The bassist steps forward later with walking bass along a hiking boot landscape, and then as soloist with tales to tell. The trio converses and shares a common idea of what kind of blade is being switched. Blades of grass and a natural charm suit the day. “A Little Max,” of course, features Roach with a variety of textures. Like much of the session, “REM Blues” simply creates a blues field into which the trio lays out their interpretations. REM, which must surely represent Roach-Ellington-Mingus, finds three relaxed giants having a good time. The slower alternate take, not issued previously, turns out even better than the other. Sometimes, as heard here, an alternate take is simply a very tough choice between two excellent tracks. Considering its 24-bit mastery and the addition of rare but exceptional material, this 40-year-old, highly recommended session has gotten better with age.
Track Listing: Money Jungle; Fleurette Africaine; Very Special; Warm Valley; Wig Wise; Caravan; Solitude; Switch Blade; A Little Max (Parfait); REM Blues; Backward Country Boy Blues; Solitude; Switch Blade; A Little Max (Parfait); REM Blues.
Personnel: Duke Ellington- piano; Charles Mingus- bass; Max Roach- drums.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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