Money Jungle with Duke Ellington’s piano is the album which I will review. United Artists released this album in February 1963, but it was originally recorded on September 17, 1962. It’s interesting to note that this album was only released in the year 1963 with seven songs. In 1979 Blue Note Records released the album again on CD including two alternate takes and four unreleased songs. Blue Note released it again in 2002 with improved quality, especially the drums. The album was re-released with two additional alternative takes, bringing the total number of songs from seven to fifteen. This album has a jazz genre called post-bop. This album was chosen for review because Duke Ellington’s name is well known in jazz, and the album only consists of a rhythm section.

Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and Ellington were all on this album. The three musicians have all left a strong legacy. It is fascinating to watch them working together. Duke Ellington has composed the majority of songs on the album. The exception is a song called “Caravan”.

As “Caravan” is a song we use in class, I was compelled to review the album. This song was composed by Juan Tizol. Max Roach starts the song with a simple yet consistent rhythm on toms. Mingus then joins on bass, and Duke Ellington finishes the song on piano. Ellington’s first entrance has a deep tone. This is effective because the bassist and drummer aren’t complicated at the beginning. Drums make the transition from Latin music to Swing easily. Roach uses only toms for the Latin part of the song. The transition from the Latin to the Swing rhythm was very distinct and powerful. Roach added simple comps and a hypnotic sound on the ride-cymbal. No solos are played, but the pianist’s style is constantly changing. Max Roach plays very subtly for the majority of the piece. However, he shines at the end with some fills that he performs with remarkable speed. Max Roach’s and Mingus’s playing seems to push Ellington into a position where he dominates their performance.

This was the song that I found most intriguing on the album. In most cases, the drummer serves to keep the beat and complement other musicians. This song is more of a drum-solo, with piano and bass accompaniments. Roach utilizes the toms as well as snares and the rims. Ellington, as well as Mingus, keep the music light behind their drummers and compliment it nicely. Roach is a unique drummer because his style makes it seem as though he never uses cymbals. In his solos, he uses only the hi-hat and the crash or ride a couple of times. It’s admirable how he isn’t afraid to try new rhythms.

This trio is without a doubt among the most legendary jazz musicians of all time. As someone who doesn’t listen much to jazz, it was a new experience to me. Although they all seem to ‘do their own thing”, the trio manages to pull it off. I rate this album as 5/5. The musicians make it look like they are talking with the songs. The songs aren’t sung, but the instruments can be heard talking to one another. Max Roach breaks the rules with his drumming. Even his most simple fills carry a lot of power. This album is highly recommended to jazz lovers because the three musicians have a great ability to push each other until they achieve a raw, driving sound.


  • noahtaylor

    Noah Taylor is a bloger, teacher, and writer living in upstate New York. He is the author of the highly successful educational blog, Noah's World, and the creator of the popular teacher resource, Noah's Notes. He has also written for many online publications, including Parenting, The Huffington Post, and The Learning Place. Noah is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.