Tracks: Very Special; A Little Max (Parfait); A Little Max (Parfait) – Alternate Take; Fleurette Africaine (African Flower); REM Blues; Wig Wise; Switch Blade; Caravan; Money Jungle; Solitude – Alternate Take; Solitude; Warm Valley; Backward Country Boy Blues
Best track: hard to pick, either A Little Max, Wig Wise or Caravan
Tracks to skip: I wasn’t too moved by Switch Blade and Country Boy Blues tonight
This is surprisingly the only Duke Ellington I own. I picked this up because the lineup intrigued me and also to hear what Ellington sounds like in a trio setting where there’s nothing to get in the way of his piano playing. Man, for the ultimate in just listening to Ellington, both takes of Solitude are excellent. For some reason tonight I preferred the alternate take of this song. It’s a gorgeous song. In this trio setting (featuring a veteran master and two relatively new kids) everyone really gets to shine. The main take of A Little Max features some incredibly musical and soulful playing from Max Roach. I was really high on that one until Fleurette Africaine came along and then Mingus stepped up and made his bass sound like birds. Even though Switch Blade is a total Mingus-fest, I really didn’t enjoy it that much this time. His playing is really unlike any other jazz bassist. It’s always interesting listening to the parts he comes up with, as it’s always something I’d never think of doing (like, the bird sounds on Fleurette). The version of Caravan is fantastic on here and the band just flies through this classic. I enjoy hearing Duke Ellington in this setting; nothing against the big band stuff (which is great of course), but I love hearing him do something he’s not exactly known for…playing in small groups. A couple of years after I bought this Blue Note reissued it again with cleaned up sound (my version sounds fine, but the new version is better) and more bonus tracks. I really don’t need that new version because I’m perfectly happy with mine, but it does exist nonetheless. Good stuff from 3 great musicians.