First launched in 1962 through the United Artists label, Duke Ellington’s collaboration with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach, Cash Jungle, was a momentous jazz summit. Although typically seen because the second the place the previous guard (Ellington) squared as much as jazz music’s younger lions (Mingus and Roach), the generational variations between its three members are sometimes exaggerated. Actually, Ellington was coming into his twilight years – he had simply turned 63 – however Mingus, then aged 40, and the 38-year-old Roach had been hardly moist behind the ears when the album was recorded.
Maybe a extra correct method of wanting on the trio’s musical marriage is to see Ellington as a revered institution determine pitted in opposition to modernist revolutionaries. Finally, although, the results of their collaboration wasn’t a confrontational face-off however a joyous celebration of jazz created by three unlikely kindred spirits.
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As far aside because the North and South Poles
On paper, the pairing of the urbane Ellington with Mingus, a roughneck firebrand famend for his volcanic mood, appears doubtlessly explosive. However the bass participant was an amazing admirer of the older musician, citing the jazz aristocrat as a important affect in his method to composition. They weren’t strangers, both, as Mingus had briefly been in Ellington’s band in 1953, although he suffered an ignominious exit: fired after 4 days for attacking one other band member.
Max Roach, too, had loved a brief stint with Ellington, in 1950; a decade later, he performed on the pianist/composer’s Paris Blues soundtrack. Ellington, then, was accustomed to each males and had been an avid follower of their musical exploits. Recalling the Cash Jungle session in his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, Ellington described his youthful collaborators as “two superb musicians,” although he additionally remarked that their personalities had been “as far aside because the North and South Poles.”
Nothing ought to be overdone, nothing underdone
In accordance with Ellington, report producer Alan Douglas instigated the thought of Cash Jungle. Douglas had labored with Ellington in Paris, in 1960, and on returning to the US he received employed by United Artists. Instantly calling the pianist, Ellington prompt that he work with Mingus and Roach within the studio. Ellington agreed, later recalling, “Charles Mingus and Max Roach had been each leaders of their very own teams, however what was wished now was the type of efficiency that outcomes when all of the minds are intent on and anxious with togetherness. Nothing ought to be overdone, nothing underdone, no matter which musician was within the prime spot as a soloist.”
The three musicians actually achieved that purpose: such was their chemistry as a unit, they sounded as if that they had been enjoying collectively for years. Regardless of Ellington’s seniority, by way of age and accomplishments, the three males went into New York’s Sound Makers Studios on Monday, September 17, 1962, as equals. The session wasn’t solely stress-free, although. Rumors persevered that Mingus – apparently sad that each one the music was Ellington’s – stormed off halfway, solely to be coaxed again by the pianist.
An instinctive sense of swing
Seven Ellington tunes appeared on the unique vinyl launch of Cash Jungle. Three of them, the dreamy “Heat Valley,” the eastern-flavored “Caravan,” and the wistful ballad “Solitude,” had been contemporary takes on well-known Ellington numbers. The rest, nevertheless, had been newly penned for the session.
Ellington hammers his piano as if possessed on the opening title music, an angular, nearly avant-garde quantity whose dissonances share an affinity with Thelonious Monk’s music. Pushed by Mingus’ sawing bass and Roach’s turbulent polyrhythms, the monitor crackles with fiery, kinetic synergy.
In sharp distinction, “Fleurette Africaine,” which turned an everyday fixture in Ellington’s live performance repertoire after Cash Jungle’s launch, possesses a shimmering delicacy. Although Ellington displayed a lyrical aspect in his ballads, his uptempo materials on Cash Jungle – such because the propulsive “Caravan,” “Very Particular,” and the jaunty “Wig Clever” – bore the imprint of a musician who instinctively knew how one can swing.
A part of the identical continuum
Enjoying alongside two youthful musicians on Cash Jungle appeared to invigorate Ellington, who attacked his piano with palpable vigor and a defiant sense of musical virility. His ultra-dynamic efficiency, together with the freshness of his newly-minted compositions, confirmed that he was nonetheless a related determine in jazz, 4 a long time after he started making a reputation for himself. As somebody who was by no means content material to face nonetheless musically, the pianist was, the truth is, as a lot of a modernist as Mingus and Roach.
However although it revived his profession (Ellington’s subsequent album could be recorded with John Coltrane), Cash Jungle wasn’t simply concerning the legendary bandleader. It was about three musicians’ mutual respect and admiration, stemming from the enjoyment of their collaboration. The report revealed that, although jazz had its factions and totally different kinds, musicians might discover widespread floor within the easy purity of their love for enjoying music collectively. Early on of their careers, Mingus and Roach gave the impression to be younger upstarts difficult the established order represented by figures like Ellington. The revelatory Cash Jungle confirmed that they had been all a part of the identical continuum.
Hearken to Cash Jungle on Apple Music and Spotify.