I refuse to call this a “long” run. I mean, it’s only 45 minutes…a mere drop in the pan. However, it is the first 45 minute consecutive run outside that I’ve done in almost two months. So, yeah, it’s a bit significant. Today’s listening soundtrack for this whopping 6.88k run is the awesome ‘Money Jungle‘ album by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach.
I was originally saving this record for a snow shoveling session on the driveway but since it hasn’t snowed in almost two months (well, enough to warrant shoveling that is) I’m listening to it today, even though it’s 10° and and I’m out running in shorts…in February.
Duke Ellington surprised the jazz world in 1962 with his historic trio session featuring Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Not in a mood to simply rework older compositions, the bulk of the LP focused on music he wrote specifically for the session. ‘Money Jungle‘ is a thunderous opener, a blues that might be classified somewhere between post-bop and avant-garde. The gem of the date is the fragile, somewhat haunting ballad ‘Fleurette Africaine‘, where Mingus’ floating bassline and Roach’s understated drumming add to the mystique of an Ellington work that has slowly been gathering steam among jazz musicians as a piece worth exploring more often. ‘Very Special’ is a jaunty upbeat blues, while the angular, descending line of ‘Wig Wise‘ also proves to be quite catchy.
Ellington also revisits ‘Warm Valley‘ (a lovely ballad indelibly associated with Johnny Hodges) and an almost meditative ‘Solitude‘. Thunderous percussion and wild basslines complement a wilder-than-usual approach to ‘Caravan‘.
The album was reviewed positively at the time of its release and subsequent reviews have remained highly favorable. Negative comments have concentrated on differences in playing style among the three musicians, brought about by the generational gap between Ellington and the others, and an argument that led to Mingus leaving the studio mid-session. Hundreds of musicians have been influenced by the recording, in particular by the freedom of individual expression within a small-group setting.
In other words, it’s “the shit”.
Every jazz fan should own a copy of this sensational recording session. The perfect happy running companion for the perfect running day.