Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue
(Concord Jazz CJA-34026-2)
In England Soweto Kinch is tackling the unhappy interaction between musical endeavour and capitalism on his new album and theatre work The Legend Of Mike Smith. In the States, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is able to investigate the same issues with the help of a 50-year-old album by Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus.
Like the Duke album, Carrington uses the piano trio as the basis here, and has pianist Gerald Clayton and double bass player Christian McBride with her in the studio. But, as she showed on her recent all-women disc The Mosaic Project, she is adept at including guests. For Money Jungle they include vocalist Lizz Wright, trumpeter Clark Terry, trombonist Robin Eubanks, saxophonists Tia Fuller and Antonio Hart. Herbie Hancock is the voice of Duke Ellington.
The opening title track features some clips from speeches, including a chilling few words from Bill Clinton who, in describing how the money jungle works, says that the reason capitalism is not concerned with solving social injustices is “you have to create problems to create profit”.
Backward Country Boy Blues starts out in the Delta with a wordless gospel vocal from Wright and then develops a slinky electric bass line and a knowing funkiness. The closer is an amalgam of the gently funky Rem Blues with Duke Ellington’s sensuous poem Music which portrays music as a woman, spoken by Shea Rose. Herbie is there at the end quoting Duke: “When you get into popularity then you’re talking about money, not music.”
The album might be mostly 50-year-old music but it is interpreted in a thoroughly 21st-century manner and the arrangements are subtle but effective, and the sound is absolutely first rate. Listen on headphones and the sonic delights are rich and warm.
I’m not sure Terri Lyne Carrington is getting as much attention as she should, especially in this country. But then, maybe we’re talking about popularity, not music. She is certainly making some damn fine records.