Album Remarks & Appraisals:
This audacious project feels good in the body and soul.
The release of Grammy-winning drummer, composer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington's homage to Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach coincides with the 50th anniversary of their iconic 1963 Money Jungle album.
Carrington enlists the aid of two high-profile collaborators - keyboardist Gerald Clayton and bassist Christian McBride - to pay tribute to Duke, his trio and his creative vision with a cover of this historic recording. Guests include trumpeter Clark Terry, trombonist Robin Eubanks, reed players Tia Fuller and Antonio Hart, guitarist Nir Felder, percussionist Arturo Stabile, vocalists Shea Rose and Lizz Wright, and Herbie Hancock.
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. Money Jungle is a superior product to this release.
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The Grammy-winning drummer has recruited veterans Clark Terry and Herbie Hancock to help put a fresh spin on her interpretation of the complete 1963 LP MONEY JUNGLE..."
Personnel: Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Tia Fuller (alto, flute); Nir Felder (guitar); Antonio Hart (flute); Robin Eubanks (trombone); Gerald Clayton (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Arturo Stable (percussion).
Recording information: Sauce Entertainment Studios, Boston, MA; Sound Temple Studio, Asheville, NC; Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY.
Editor: Jeremy Loucas.
Photographers: Tracy Love; Michael Goldman .
Drummer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington won a Grammy in 2012 for her genre-blurring Mosaic Project, which blended the voices and instruments of an all-female cast in a series of bold musical statements. Here Carrington turns her sights toward revisioning a legendary meeting of jazz minds on the recording of 1963's Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. Accompanied by pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Christian McBride, and a host of guests, Carrington not only reinterprets that album, she adds to its discourse with two of her own compositions and another by Clayton. She doesn't follow the original sequence of Money Jungle. She kicks it off with the title cut introduced by her drum kit underneath the voice of activist and author Michael Ruppert, whose quote, "You have to create problems to create profit," highlights other well-chosen, organically placed sound clips from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hilary and Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, making the tune -- and the album -- an artistic, musical indictment of the pervasive corruption in Western capitalism. But this set is far from some autodidactic sermonette. As McBride and Clayton enter the tune's fray, things get funky and swing. With her trademark brand of authoritative circular rhythm (deeply influenced by Roach) at the core, this trio comes together seamlessly to move the argument from the intellect into the heart. Nonagenarian jazz elder Clark Terry lends his deep blue scatting vocal and trumpet to a steamy read of "Fleurette Africaine." The set's hinge piece is "Wig Wise," with its knotty lyric head stated definitively by Clayton. McBride shines throughout, but his blues solo, which kicks off "Switch Blade," offers homage to that same feel in Mingus. Nir Felder's gutbucket, bottleneck guitar playing introduces what becomes a sophisticated, slinky, nocturnal read of "Backwoods Country Boy Blues," which is decidedly more urban than its title suggests. It is complemented beautifully by Lizz Wright's wordless vocals. Carrington's "Grass Roots" is a beautifully angular blues, while her "No Boxes (Nor Words)" is an expressionistic modernist post-bop number with a smoking solo by McBride. The set ends with "REM Blues/Music," which commences quietly, subtly, and with a shimmering quality from Clayton's Rhodes. The tune incorporates an Ellington poem recited by Shea Rose with a spoken coda by him offered by Herbie Hancock. Carrington's title, Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, is apt. She reveals the pervasive nature the blues in the original album's compositions and intent, and underscores how their importance resonates in jazz's present tense. And nothing brings the blues like money -- especially the lack of it. But Ellington himself stated that "... the music will be there when the money is gone." Amen. ~ Thom Jurek