CD Review: Terri Lyne Carrington - Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue



Terri Lyne Carrington - Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue
(Concord Jazz CJA-34026-02. CD Review by Chris Parker)


It’s 50 years since Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach got together and made Money Jungle, an immediately arresting, full-on, sophisticated bluesy brawl of an album imbued with all the passionate political commitment of the times. Drummer/composer Teri Lyne Carrington, initially attracted to the album because of ‘the spirit of the music, the passion of the players, and the tension of the times, that pops off the vinyl’, has assembled a band -– centred on pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Christian McBride, but augmented where necessary by trombonist Robin Eubanks, flautist/alto player Tia Fuller, flautist Antonio Hart, guitarist Nir Felder and percussionist Arturo Stable (plus a number of guest vocalists, trumpeter Clark Terry among them) – to reinterpret much of the original album’s music in a manner which, while true to the rousingly intense and fiercely interactive spirit of the template, filters it through a distinctly modern sensibility.

In the process, she has drawn on a wide range of musical sources, from delta blues and hard bop to soul and fusion, to make a contemporary statement about the original album’s main concerns (summed up in the first of her album’s many spoken samples: ‘You have to create problems to create profit’, and subsequently emphasised by clips of speeches from Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton et al.), producing a rich, multi-faceted set comprising eight Ellington compositions and three in-band originals that, in her own words, ‘keep reminding the younger musicians how important our predecessors are’.

The unique mix of full-blooded clangour and controlled delicacy that characterises the original trio album (which has an overall sound that is immediately recognisable) is skilfully reproduced by Clayton, McBride (his Mingusian robustness in both accompanying and solo roles particularly striking) and Carrington herself, but where the modern album really scores is in its success at harnessing such a wide variety of sounds and styles and making them cohere to drive home a thoroughly contemporary message, both musical and political.

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