Something seismic went down when Duke Ellington met up with Charles Mingus and Max Roach in 1962. The music on Money Jungle (Blue Note) truly quakes. Michelle Mercer used the term “combative” in her NPR review of the reissue a decade ago, and one blogger dude deems the famed troika “the OG power trio of the ’60s.” Long story short, there’s lots of pushing and shoving that takes place in the music (listen to the bassist bully his mates with the repeated lunges on the title tune), but it adds up to some crackling jazz. The iconic pianist, who never let a finger hit a key without poise being part of the equation, is at his most physical here. And of course Max Roach drops bomb after bomb after bomb, exploding the action on several levels. Money Jungle gets the blood racing.
But a question arises: Which of the album’s tunes is the most impactful? The hard-driving “Wig Wise”? The lush “Fleurette Africaine”? The mercurial “Switch Blade”? It’s Ellington’s 112 birthday today. Take the next 48 hours to consider your response and post it up in “Comments.” And feel free to forward to a fellow Money Jungle freak, too.