Fresh off a Grammy win with the all star female jazz collective Mosaic, Terri Lyne Carrington returns with her most ambitious and artistic recording to date. In 1962, Duke Ellington recorded a trio session with what could arguably be called the greatest jazz trio together. Consisting of the ever volatile but incredibly lyrical drummer Max Roach and the compositional genius of bassist Charles Mingus this is still the standard by which other trios are measured. On 02/5/13, Carrington release her own contemporary look at this groundbreaking release with a trio including Gerald Clayton on piano and Grammy winning bassist Christian McBride. The more things change the more they stay the same.
In 1962, Ellington's recording was an examination of the perennial sonic struggle between art and commerce. Not much has changed over the years with Carrington utilizing certain bits of spoke word passages from Ellington (with voice over by Herbie Hancock) now in the public domain along with voice over work from Clark Terry, Shea Rose and Lizz Wright. Normally I keep my jazz and socio/political demons in separate cages but Carrington does a spectacular job of reinforcing the Ellington p.o.v. without every crossing the pretentious line of self indulgence - further more, she is right. Like it or not sports fans, music is a business. There is no such thing as a non profit and that includes art - gotta keep the lights on somehow.
Highlights from this stellar work include; Money Jungle, Backward Country Boy Blues, and Switch Blade. The release opens with a somewhat unsettling statement about our modern day capitalist system, "You have to create problems to create profit." This statement ruffled my feathers somewhat till speaking to a record executive who made the statement concerning some highly inappropriate comments by an artist on his label (not Concord) that as long as it "stirs the pot then it is good for business." The light bulb went off and the romanticism of what I then considered jazz was promptly pulled off life support. Carrington did her due diligence on this recording and it shows. Along with the necessary research, Carrington takes modern jazz creativity to another level by reinventing this 50 something recording without ever losing the original authenticity or integrity that Ellington, Roach, and Mingus set out to deliver.
The bottom line is this, if you liked Mosaic then you will love Money Jungle which may be one of the most impressive releases to look forward to in the coming year. In the day of the digital download and advance ordering this is a release your gift card would be well spent for.
Tracks: Money Jungle; Fleurette Africain; Backward Country Boy Blues; Very Special; Wig Wise; Grass Roots; No Boxes; A Little Max; Switch Blade; Cut Off; Rem Blues/Music.
Personnel: Terri Lyne Carrington: drums; Gerald Clayton: piano, rhodes; Christian McBride: bass; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Tia Fuller: alto, flute; Antonio Hart: flute; Nir Felder: guitar; Arturo Stable: percussion; Shea Rose: voice, track 11; Lizz Wright: voice; track 3; Herbie Hancock: voice of Duke Ellington (11); Special Guest: Clark Terry, voice (2).