Terri Lyne Carrington – Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue – Concord Jazz CJA 34026-02, 62:26 ***½:
(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, track1; Lizz Wright – voice, track 2; Herbie Hancock – voice of Duke Ellington track 1; Clark Terry – trumpet & voice, track 2)
The original namesake album Money Jungle was released in 1963 as a trio recording featuring Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. It was a startling session that contained mostly new compositions that Ellington wrote specifically for the project. Now drummer Terri Lyne Carrington has taken a fresh look at the material offering a new sensibility to the compositions without impinging on their original intent.
Backed by what is—in essence, an all-star band—Carrington and her cohorts impart their inimitable styles to Ellington’s compositions plus bring several of their own pieces to integrate with the overall theme of the album. Author Bill Moody in his novel Solo Hand has his protagonist jazz pianist Evan Horne state: “you don’t choose music…music chooses you” and that seems to be the modus operandi here.
The opening and title track “Money Jungle” has drummer Carrington taking a lead solo covering all the components her drum kit, then bassist McBride and pianist Clayton join the fray to take the piece forward to its logical conclusion. However along way we have some voice-overs from Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Clinton and others talking about the problems associated with money. This track seamlessly segues into “Fleurette Africain” with some jive-talkin’ by trumpeter Clark Terry, and then followed by a lovely tonal and subtly-textured arrangement of the piece. “Backward Country Boy Blues” starts off in a traditional gospel fashion with some slide guitar and wordless vocalizing by Lizz Wright, which continues throughout the track over the instrumental wanderings of pianist Gerald Clayton and some other members of the band.
“Very Special” provides pianist Gerald Clayton ample opportunity to show that he is a shrewd and technically deft player, and along with McBride’s bass gives the piece its resonance. The compositions penned by Carrington are “Grass Roots” and “No Boxes (Nor Words)” with Clayton providing “Cut Off”. While not without interest and some character, while well played by the band, when offered in an Ellington compositional environment, even if they are the Duke’s lesser works, they mostly pale in comparison.
Although the original Money Jungle is a superior product to this release, Terri Lyne Carrington has demonstrated an intriguing approach with this re-designed interpretation.
TrackList: Money Jungle; Fleurette Africain; Backward Country Boy Blues; Very Special; Wig Wise; Grass Roots; No Boxes (Nor Words); A Little Max(Parfait); Switch Blade; Cut Off; Rem Blues/Music