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Duke Ellington: Money Jungle

January 28th, 2010

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a figure drawing class that I remember being particularly enjoyable — owing as much to the quality of my classmates as to the quality of the nude models. Anyways, our professor Belinda would play great records during class to help us get into the zone as we attempted to capture the play of light off of one patch of skin or another. A Duke Ellington trio recording titled Money Jungle was one of the records I was introduced to during that class. I went out and bought it for myself right away.

In some sort of cosmic play, the epically talented drummer from Money Jungle, Max Roach, came to our school for a solo show in the campus theater space that very same year. Having listened to Money Jungle over and over, I made sure I was in the audience that night. It was great. Never boring, usually funny, and always inventive — I was bowled over by Max’s 90-minute exploration of the drum kit. Ever since then, I look for Mr. Roach’s name on a record’s sleeve as a sort of litmus test for how satisfying the recording is going to be.

So, here it is; my favorite jazz record: Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, and Max Roach in Money Jungle



Art, Drawing, Music

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