La sesión se tuvo que interrumpir cuando Mingus, que había sido maltratado de pequeño por no ser ni blanco ni negro, y que tenía la apariencia de un oso y el genio corto, abandonó la sesión descontento con el trabajo de Max Roach. Se cuenta que Ellington, ¡el mismísimo Duke Ellington!, tuvo que perseguirle por la calle y convencerle para que volviera al estudio. Roach dijo después que lo que había cabreado a Mingus había sido no poder incluir ninguna de sus composiciones en el álbum. El caso es que Charlie regresó y terminó su trabajo, a regañadientes.
‘Es una de las imágenes que nunca olvidaré. Estábamos en el estudio de la calle 57th entre la Sexta y la Séptima Avenida, y recuerdo mirar por la ventana en dirección hacía la Séptima Avenida y ver a Duke Ellington persiguiendo a Charlie Mingus calle arriba. Lo alcanzó y le convenció para que volviera al estudio. Una vez de vuelta, Mingus estuvo muy cooperativo y se preocupó de los negocios durante el resto de la sesión’ · Alan Douglas - (http://www.cryptamag.es/jazz-voyages-ix-money-jungle/)
"(...) Lo que aquí escuchamos es un "pique" musical de altos vuelos. Tres grandes maestros alejados del conformismo de su propia fama.
Quizá llama especialmente la atención el piano de Ellington. Sobre todo porque es en Duke en quien se produce una transformación más visible. De un piano de habitual moderado pasamos aquí a un piano que charla de igual a igual con un lenguaje más propio quizá de la "jungla" Mingus. Una "Jungla del dinero" que se convierte aquí en una salvaje convivencia entre tres fuertes personalidades de la historia del jazz. Y digo salvaje porque en el discurso del disco se percibe una sana (¿?) provocación sonora entre los tres - en especial entre Mingus y Ellington - . Dicha convivencia parece ser - se oye, se dice, se comenta - fue tensa. Quizá fuera por uno de los habituales cabreos de Mingus pero el hecho es que según parece quien peor lo llevó fue Max Roach de quien se dice incluso fue sustituido en algunos de los temas por Dannie Richmond (vaya usted a saber).
Motivos aparte la verdad es que "Money Jungle" es un conglomerado de grandes sorpresas. Música con inusitada fuerza e intensidad que llega por momentos a flirtear con detalles del "free-jazz" - un ejemplo en el tema "Money Jungle" - o incluso con impresionismos sonoros - Fleurette Africaine -. Incluso los sonidos más "clásicos" del piano de Ellington se ven sorprendidos por un contrabajo en ocasiones percusivo de un siempre rompedor Mingus." (Carlos Pérez Cruz en Tomajazz)
Deseo de Duke Ellington de grabar junto a Max Roach y Charles Mingus, o idea de la discográfica United Artists, Money Jungle reunió por primera y única vez en el estudio a estos tres músicos. Ellington fue el autor de todos los temas de la sesión. Más allá de ser un trabajo de compromiso que bien podría haber echado mano del enorme legado del pianista, compositor y director de orquesta, todos los temas salvo tres (“Warm Valley” y los celebérrimos “Caravan” y “Solitude”) fueron obras escritas para esta sesión de grabación. La implicación de los tres músicos salta a la vista desde el primer momento en que comienza a sonar la grabación con “Money Jungle”, un tema con una intensidad inusitada en la carrera del pianista. Es el inicio de una lección magistral de los tres músicos acerca de cómo integrar sus lenguajes personales con el de sus compañeros, de cómo recoger elementos ajenos para integrarlos en el discurso propio. Continúa un recital soberbio con la delicadeza de “Fleurette Africaine”, la balada “Warm Valley” con su comienzo a piano solo, el aroma ellingtoniano de “Very Special” con Mingus y Roach ejerciendo de magnífica rítmica y la reminiscencia mingusiana de “Wig Wise”, llegando al final del disco publicado originalmente con las magníficas reinvenciones de “Caravan” y “Solitude”. Las posteriores reediciones han añadido unos temas (“Switch Blade”, el homenaje a Roach “A Little Max (Parfait)”, “Rem Blues” y “Backward Boy Blues”) que grabados en la misma sesión, están a la altura de los siete temas iniciales. (@Adolphus van Tenzing, 2013 en Money Jungle por Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach)
A Masterpiece of Disharmony (The Paris Review)By Matt Levin December 1, 2020ARTS & CULTUREMost successful collaborations are celebrated for the near-magic synchronicity between the musicians. But when Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach shared a recording studio in 1962, the result was a monument to tension and friction.The title track of Duke Ellington’s 1962 album Money Jungle opens with a jarring, metallic sound, something between a bison call and a buzz saw, bleating alone in tripping doubles, siren-tense. It is the bassist doing something unnatural to his instrument—running his fingernail against the strings, snapping them, making them percuss. A violent sound. Five seconds of the bass bleating and the drums burst, a crisp wave of sound from the hi-hat, a parade over the lowing of the bass, cresting and dipping in preparation for the piano, and after another five seconds the piano comes in loud, bursting, a chord played with all the pianist’s strength, as if he had thrown all his weight down onto those first keys. In the wake of this opening salvo the piano flits about the bass, weaving bright circles, like a bullfighter leaning tight to the bull and swaying just out of reach—in turn the doubles of the bass become a run, the opening figure played over and over again, obsessively, the bass stamping the ground, beating its head against the wall just to touch something. When the bass finally lets up, relaxes off its single note and dips, the piano dips right behind it—a bird snatching an insect off the ground. The album, in the first thirty seconds, is less a collaboration than a tug-of-war, a tangle of thrown gauntlets and cross-purposes. For the remaining five minutes of the song the piano is in control, jumping in front of and about the bass, staying just ahead of its push.The track ends not in explosion but in exhaustion. The bass tries one last charge, snapping the same note over and over to the limit of endurance, and soon loses its proportion, slowing to something heavy and irregular, a wounded breathing. The piano slows too, but mechanically, like a wind-up toy at the end of its string—a few soft, low plinks, and gone, scattered over the dense body of the bass. After the track was recorded, it is said, the bassist attempted to walk out of the session. The album, in my estimation, is a masterpiece.Money Jungle had been intended as a collaboration of styles and generations—Duke Ellington, sixty-three, big-band grandee, measured and smooth, a living legend albeit slightly passé, playing around with two emissaries of sweating, jagged, hard-driving bop—the drummer Max Roach, thirty-eight; and the bassist and composer Charles Mingus, forty, a man occasionally proclaimed to be the inheritor of Duke’s mantle, a musician who named “Duke and Church” as his two influences and a volcanic personality who had previously been fired from Duke’s 1953 European touring band after only four days for fighting a fellow musician. Mingus in concert, finally, with his idol. Duke embracing his descendants, bestowing his personal seal on their lineage. And Roach straddling both styles, yoking them together in rhythm—or at least, that was the plan. As Rick Mattingly writes in The Drummer’s Time: Conversations with the Great Drummers of Jazz, at Roach’s recollection of their sole prerecording meeting, Ellington had self-effacingly called himself “the poor man’s Bud Powell,” and had expressed a desire to play an assortment of compositions, not only his own. On the finished album, however, every track is Ellington’s.At some point on the afternoon of September 17, 1962, at the only recording session for Money Jungle, in Sound Makers Studio on Fifty-Seventh Street, Midtown Manhattan, Charles Mingus pulled the cover over his double bass, sharp and rough, effortlessly lifted the hefty thing, and left the smoke-domed recording room, eyes on the floor and muttering to himself, cursing, stomping down the hallway toward the elevator and the canyon-intense late light pouring into Seventh Avenue. Reviewer Thomas Cunliffe theorizes that his exit must have come after the recording of the title track—the difference in tone between that and the following songs is simply too great. Maybe Max Roach, sitting at the drums in a silky green shirt, loose fit, had said something to Mingus, smiled horizon-flat and wide, rolled a jolly little trill on his snare drum, and Mingus stopped, covered the bass, and left. Maybe Roach slouched infinitesimally on his stool as Duke trailed Mingus out of the room, bemused but unruffled. Maybe Mingus, as the bassist Chris Wood heard, had been seething all day at Duke, watching and waiting as Duke played one after another of his own compositions, his own ideas, keeping the session entirely on his own terms. Maybe the songs Mingus had brought, expecting Duke to give them his inimitable marble lightness, were left crumpled and sweating in his pocket, and he struggled all day against the man he idolized.There is disagreement even among the stories of the disagreement, as if the tension and disharmony of the session bled into collective memory. As producer Alan Douglas remembered to music critic Bill Milkowski, of the walkout, “That’s one of the visuals I will never forget. We were in the studio on Fifty-Seventh Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and I remember leaning out the window, looking up towards Seventh Avenue and seeing Duke Ellington chasing Charlie Mingus up the street.” Yet in Stuart Nicholson’s Reminiscing in Tempo : A Portrait of Duke Ellington, Duke remembers stopping Mingus at the elevator, and never going into the street, recounting years later—A funny thing happened in the middle of the session. Mingus suddenly and without warning started to pack up his bass and when I inquired where he was going and what was the trouble, he said, “Man, I can’t play with that drummer.” I said, “Why? What’s wrong?” He said, “Duke, I’ve always loved you and what you’re doing in music but you’ll just have to get another bass player.” And I said, “You mean just like that in the middle of the date—come on man, it can’t be that serious.” But he kept packing and went out of the door to the elevator, I followed him to the elevator and after he rolled off a few more beefs, I slowly and quietly said, “Mingus, my man …”Ever the strong, aloof father, Duke does not recall noticing the steady boil of Mingus’s frustration, frustration clearly audible on the record, and clearly directed at Duke and his piano. The only agreed-upon fact is that Mingus left, and Duke followed. The centerpiece of the album is strife, both in the recording and the music.In the Money Jungle session photos, Mingus is in short sleeves, suspenders, hatless and hulking and bottom-heavy behind his double bass, holding it delicately with thick fingers. Ellington is wearing a trilby and cardigan, trim mustache and bags under his eyes the shape of a coupe cocktail glass—the frail elegance of the newly elderly. Mingus is staring down and aslant in each photo, directly at Ellington sitting at the piano, the intensity of his gaze still alive.A collaboration is generally assumed to be dependent on a unity between its participants—minds at least intending and attempting to move in the same direction. And indeed, one of the glories of collaborative music is listening as multiple people concurrently have the same idea, see the immediate future as a shared, coherent structure through which to communicate a path forward, extemporaneously building something complex and alive. It approaches the metaphysical, a reciprocal subsuming of egos to a larger gestalt comprising, alchemically, each player. Yet that collaborative beauty of music cannot rest on unity and harmony alone—for it to mean anything, there must be the possibility of conflict. Just as it is difficult to call a decision good if the possibility of a bad decision was not available—the category loses its meaning without the spectral presence and potential of its opposite—successful collaboration carries the shadow of its failure. It is the awareness that the player could have made a different choice, could have asserted their ego and lunged for control, that gives the moment of collaborative concordance its frisson and pleasure. If there is no residue of what has been overcome, no sense of an autonomy being renounced, the collaboration has no life.If most great collaborations are the triumph of harmony, Money Jungle is a monument to disharmony—and it is a masterpiece for it. Mingus, throughout the session and climaxing in the recording of the title track, seems to be set on harrying Duke—bumping him, playing over him, trying to throw him off. And Duke, to the surprise of many listeners, pushes back, playing in an aggressive, angular style believed to be alien to him. In “Money Jungle: 50 Years After the Summit,” in Downbeat magazine, Bill Milkowski catches up with many of those originally involved in the production. About Mingus’s pushiness on the title track, Milkowski quotes the pianist Uri Caine as saying “Duke is being very fatherly to Mingus in the sense of saying, ‘I’m going to let you be obstreperous there; you can do your thing and I’m going to hold it down for you. Next time you do it, I’m going to go out, too.’ There’s a lot of psychology going on in this session.” Another pianist, Matthew Shipp, says of Duke’s playing on the album, “There’s nothing rote about any aspect of this album. It has none of that feel of when you’re throwing people together in the studio and you’re just going through the motions, because the tension was palpable. I find it an album of utter vitalism, unlike a lot of straightahead albums of that time.” And Milkowski quotes Don DeMichael’s contemporaneous review of the album in Downbeat in 1963: “I’ve never heard Ellington play as he does on this album; Mingus and Roach, especially Mingus, push him so strongly that one can almost hear Ellington show them who’s boss—and he dominates both of them, which is no mean accomplishment.” It is a roused, rejuvenated Duke Ellington playing on Money Jungle, no longer cocooned by his stature, no longer playing in a void scaffolded by his legend. And Mingus is peculiarly rejuvenated as well, briefly returned to the adolescent stance in which every idea is fought for. The tension is the vitality.And yet, to fight and claw coherently with another musician for an entire album requires a deep, rooted connection, a fundamental commonality in the way each sees and moves within music. The feeling of Money Jungle is that of a chess match—when Ellington and Mingus grapple, it betrays not misunderstanding but an understanding so ambient and encompassing it allows the player to see what the other is doing and consciously work against it. One begins to marvel both at the energy of the music and at the players’ ability to maintain this high-wire act, to undermine each other without falling into total disarray. Every cacophony produced is set against the euphony the musicians know they could choose and are renouncing. A multitude of possible harmonies, possible concordances, are produced like sparks from the friction of their strikes against each other, shading the music, creating an optical illusion with an absent, suggested richness. Money Jungle is a rare in vivo demonstration of collaboration—as each element of cooperation is spurned, it is made audible—and an exploration of the dissonant regions reachable by musicians who truly understand each other. Mingus storming out after the death struggle of the title track was the capstone of the session’s collaborative logic, his recognition of its completion, and his instinctual contribution to one of the central pillars of music—its end. It was his last lunge, and it was perfect.Eventually Duke did persuade Mingus to return, and they finished the final tracks—perfectly competent, and less contentious. “Picked up the bass, came back into the studio and we recorded very happily ever after till the album was done,” Ellington recalled. Yet they had already, in the grip of the boiling disharmony, recorded the two most remarkable tracks they would play that session. The album opens with one, the title track, the apex of their disunity, and follows with the other, a demonstration of their connection—“Fleurette Africaine,” a hushed, achingly lovely song built around a simple piano figure, almost a lullaby. As Duke describes it:One number in particular was as close to spontaneity as you can get, I believe. I explained what we were going to do, with no thought as to what they were going to do. I said, “Now we are in the center of a jungle, and for two hundred miles in any direction, no man has ever been. And right in the center of this jungle, put in the deep moss, there’s a tiny little flower growing, the most fragile thing that’s ever grown. It’s God-made and untouched and this is going to be ‘The Little African Flower.’” I started to play, and we played to the end and that was it.The song ends with Duke’s piano repeating the figure, softer and softer, as Mingus rolls and rubs his fingers pleasantly over the bass, purring—a sound near to the anguished yelp of the title track, rotated minutely into harmony.For more on the making of the album, The Paris Review recommends Bill Milkowski’s “Money Jungle: 50 Years After the Summit“ in https://downbeat.com/digitaledition/2013/DB201306/_art/DB201306.pdf*-*
Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach-Money Jungle (Dereks Music Blog*)On Monday, September the ‘17th’ 1962, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach made their way to Sound Makers Studio, in New York. The two friends were en route to a session where they would record an album with one of the giants of jazz, Duke Ellington and producer Alan Douglas. This album would become Money Jungle, which was recently reissued by Blue Note Records as part of their Tone Poet series. It’s an album whose roots can be traced to Paris, as the sixties dawned.In the early sixties, producer Alan Douglas and Duke Ellington were both working in Paris, France. One day, the producer was helping the big band leader and pianist. It was the way Alan Douglas was, and he was only too pleased to help Duke Ellington. Little did he realise their paths would cross again in the not too distant future.In 1962, Alan Douglas took charge of United Artists’ jazz division and moved to New York. One of the first albums he recorded was Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers’ Three Blind Mice. This was followed by trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s a quintet recording Matador, which also featured Jackie McLean and Bobby Timmons. Already, Alan Douglas had recorded two classic albums. Soon, two would become three. However, there’s two versions of how that third classic album came about.According to Duke Ellington, as soon as Alan Douglas began his new role at United Artists’ jazz division he called the veteran pianist. During the call, Duke Ellington came up with the idea that he record an album with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. However, that is slightly different to Alan Douglas’ recollection of what happened in 1962, when he had an unexpected visit from a giant of jazz.Alan Douglas’ visitor that day in 1962 was Duke Ellington, who by then, was sixty-three, and without a recording contract. The head of United Artists Jazz remembers it was Duke Ellington who suggested recording a piano-based album. As the two men spoke, Alan Douglas thought about a possible lineup. He suggested forty year old bassist Charles Mingus who was signed to United Artists, and had very briefly been part of Duke Ellington’s band.That was in 1953, when Charles Mingus deputised for Duke Ellington’s double bassist. He had only been a member of the band for four days when he got into a fight with trombonist and composer Juan Tizol, who cowrote the jazz standards jazz standards Caravan. Charles Mingus was fired by Duke Ellington but they would be reunited nine years later. There was a but though.Charles Mingus said he would play on the recording, but insisted that he was joined by thirty-eight year old drummer Max Roach. This was not up for negotiation. If Duke Ellington wasn’t willing to accept Max Roach as drummer the session wouldn’t happen. The veteran bandleader agreed. Without a recording contract he knew that Charles Mingus who was signed to United Artists Jazz was holding all the aces.Duke Ellington knew Max Roach who had briefly been a member of his band in 1950, and a decade later played on his Paris Blues soundtrack. However, by the time of the Money Jungle sessions, Max Roach like Charles Mingus had stepped out of Duke Ellington’s shadow as they both forged successful careers.The day before the recording, on Sunday, September the ‘16th’ 1962 the three men met and Duke Ellington who told them to: “Think of me as the poor man’s Bud Powell.” He also told Charles Mingus and Max Roach that he didn’t just want to play only his own compositions. This wasn’t true though.The session at Sound Makers Studios, in New York, was due to begin at 1pm on Monday, September the ‘17th’ 1962. Max Roach arrived at the studio at midday to set his drums up and Duke Ellington was already there and writing out some material. That was when it became clear that despite what he had said the previous day, all the compositions that Duke Ellington wanted to use were his own.Of the seven compositions that made it onto the album, Duke Ellington wrote Money Jungle, Fleurette Africaine (African Flower), Very Special, Warm Valley and Wig Wise. They were joined by Solitude which Duke Ellington wrote with Eddie DeLange and Irving Mills. Ironically the other track was Caravan, which Charles Mingus’ nemesis Juan Tizol cowrote with Duke Ellington and Irving Mills. When it came to recording the tracks Duke Ellington took an unusual approach.When Max Roach was asked about the sessions in 1968 he remembered how Duke Ellington passed out: “a lead sheet that just gave the basic melody and harmony.” He also gave them a sheet of paper with a visual image. One said: “crawling around on the streets are serpents who have their heads up; these are agents and people who have exploited artists. Play that along with the music.”Having looked at the lead sheet and read the visual images Charles Mingus and Max Roach declined the opportunity to rehearse. Instead, they decided to record straight to tape. This would be the first time that they had played the material together. It’s thought it wasn’t the easiest session.There’s various versions of the clashes that allegedly took place during the session. According to Alan Douglas, Charles Mingus complained about Max Roach’s playing, and then picked up his bass and left the studio mid-session. Duke Ellington managed to catch up with him and after talking on the street outside, managed to persuade Charles Mingus to return. However, Duke Ellington’s version has one slight difference in that he persuaded him to return as they stood at the elevator. With at least four people in the room there’s other versions of what happened.Another version was that Charles Mingus was unhappy that none of his compositions were used during the Money Jungle sessions. There was certainly tension in the air during the recording session and that can be heard from the opening track.The tracks were recorded in the same order as they appeared on the album, and the tension builds during the uptempo tracks. It’s thought that Charles Mingus left after they recorded the album opener Money Jungle. By then the tension is palpable and is apparent the way he plucks the strings with his fingernails. It’s a mixture of power and frustration as they seesaw and he ensures the track swings. Meanwhile, Max Roach plays pounding polyrhythms as Duke Ellington pounds, stabs and jabs the piano and as he improvises playing dissonant chords. It was after that it’s thought Charles Mingus picked up his bass and left the studio.After Charles Mingus returns, they record the ballad Fleurette Africaine (African Flower) which unfolds and emerge from what’s essentially a simple melody. It’s followed by Very Special, another twelve-bar blues, and then Warm Valley which veers between melancholy to dramatic as Duke Ellington’s piano takes centre-stage.The tempo rises on Wig Wise, a jaunty, uptempo track where the piano and then bass take the lead. When Charles Mingus’ bass takes the lead this seems to spur Duke Ellington on to greater heights. He has the same effect on Charles Mingus Throughout the rest of the track they drive each other to even greater heights. There’s no stopping the trio and the tempo continues to rise on Caravan where Duke Ellington’s fingers dance across the keyboard as the rhythm section propel the arrangement along and play with a freedom and invention. Again, Duke Ellington jabs and stabs the keyboard which then twinkles and sparkles before becoming dark and dramatic as the track closes and the tension seems to build. Closing Money Jungle is Solitude, a beautiful standard which offers the chance to reflect and ruminate. Sadly, by then the relationship between the three giants of jazz was fractured despite having recorded what would later be regarded as a classic album of post bop.After the session, the trio who had a two album deal with United Artists Jazz couldn’t be persuaded to play together. It was the end of the line for this short-lived collaboration. At the time, Duke Ellington was the biggest loser, as he didn’t have a recording deal. Meanwhile, Charles Mingus and Max Roach stars were in the ascendancy, and were both regarded as pioneering jazz musicians. When Money Jungle was released by United Artists Jazz it was further proof of this.Money Jungle was released in mono and stereo in February 1963 and the reviews were mostly favourable. Much of the plaudits were reserved for Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Down Beat magazine’s Don DeMicheal called them: “some of the fastest company around.” They were also praised for taking Duke Ellington out of comfort zone and taking him in a new direction musically and he needs to improvise like he’s never done before. He rises to challenge and thrives on an album that has been called everything from “memorable” to a “masterpiece.” Despite that, many critics felt that Charles Mingus stole the show during Money Jungle which was the only album featuring three members of jazz royalty.This meant that Money Jungle was a historical recording. However, there was a problem with the standard of the original stereo recording of Money Jungle. When the instruments were setup, the piano was at the front and in centre with the double bass panned right and the drums in the left channel behind the piano. Some critics described the recording as sounding “wooly” with instances of distortion emanating from the piano microphone. This was disappointing given the importance of the album.Critics realised when they heard Money Jungle that despite their different backgrounds and what had happened during the session that the three giants of jazz had recorded what was a classic album. The critics knew that Charles Mingus and Max Roach were capable of this, as they regularly recorded albums of groundbreaking music. The same critics doubted that Duke Ellington would ever record another classic album.By 1963, when Money Jungle was released the veteran bandleader and pianist was sixty-four. Duke Ellington was born in 1899, and was regarded by some critics as yesterday’s man and part of jazz’s establishment. He was very different to his collaborators on Money Jungle.Charles Mingus and Max Roach were both modernest musicians and were regarded by critics as musical revolutionaries. Critics hailed their modernist sound as the future of jazz. Despite that, they respected Duke Ellington and his music had influenced both men. However, when they joined forces in 1962 they seemed unlikely collaborators.Despite what happened during the session Duke Ellington was spurred on by the two younger men. They brought out the best in the legendary bandleader and encouraged him to improvise like he had never improvised before. There was a chemistry between the three men who poured a roller coaster of emotions into the music. Sometimes, frustration and anger can be heard, other happiness and joy, and at other times a sense sadness and melancholy. For much of Money Jungle there’s a sense of tension and that’s apparent as the tempo rises, until the closing track Solitude, where the trio seem to reflect on what’s gone before. It was the perfect way to close the Money Jungle.Since the original release of Money Jungle in 1963, there have been notable reissues of Money Jungle in 1987 and 2002 where the remastering process has resulted in an improvement in sound quality. That is the case on the recently reissued Tone Poet vinyl version which was remastered by Kevin Gray and is without doubt the best vinyl version available. It’s the perfect way to discover this landmark album where sparks fly and Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach, three giants of jazz, make musical history on Money Jungle, a post bop classic that is a must have for anyone who loves and is passionate about jazz.