Monday January 30, 2017
From The Chicago Tribune
Carrington and Wright reimagine Ellington’s ‘Money Jungle’
By: Howard Reich
Duke Ellington made personal history in the early 1960s, pushing beyond widely held preconceptions about him by recording “Money Jungle” with two younger musical adventurers, Charles Mingus and Max Roach.
The three musicians coaxed each other into unexpected directions at a time of tremendous creative ferment in jazz, the recording influencing generations of artists to come.
Drummer-bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington stands among them, and she expressed her admiration in her 2013 album “Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue,” a bold response conceived for modern times. For Carrington expanded freely on the original, extending the instrumentation and peppering Ellington’s compositions with audio clips from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others, thereby making her social commentary explicit.
A pared-down version of this band played the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts on Thursday evening, with Carrington behind the drums and at the center of the storm. Of the evening’s personnel, only Carrington and singer Lizz Wright played on the recording, but their contributions were enough to convey much of its fervency. For Carrington and Wright emerged as the primary drivers of this concert, which attained a heightened degree of intensity whenever Wright stood before the microphone.
Carrington unfurled “Money Jungle” essentially as a suite, with few pauses between compositions, giving the music a dramatic arc that individual tracks on an album interrupt. The drummer’s sonic force and textural clarity produced inexorable forward motion at a variety of tempos, with touches of color from bassist Zach Brown, Mark Shim’s counterpoint on synthesized wind instruments and Aaron Parks’ glistening pianism (evoking Gerald Clayton’s contributions to the recording, albeit with a softer edge).
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