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Green Chimneys: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Contributing Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

After looking at an early Monk composition, ”Shuffle Boil,” and more recently at Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” I’ll look at another color-themed song from Monk this time around, Thelonious Monk’s “Green Chimneys” from later in his career. This tune was first recorded for the Straight, No Chaser sessions in 1967, though that take was only included on re-issues of the album. Monk included “Green Chimneys” on his Underground album in 1968, and it has received the cover treatment quite a few times since.

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Red Clay: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Contributing Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Why not listen to some more jazz that was somewhat famously sampled by A Tribe Called Quest? (What’s up, Ronnie Foster?) Unlike Ronnie Foster, who is best known for the immensely sample-able bassline he wrote for “Mystic Brew”, Freddie Hubbard is an immensely influential trumpet player, having played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, and led his own groups on some incredible albums, including three that were recorded for CTI in the early 1970’s: Red Clay, First Light, and Straight Life. I’ll take a look at the title track from Red Clay for this column.

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Moontrane: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Contributing Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Woody Shaw’s “Moontrane” is a great tune by a great composer and musician. Why isn’t this song and this musician more heralded? I suppose because Shaw is a trumpet player whose last name is neither Davis, Hubbard, nor Marsalis, though his playing and writing stands up very well next to these more famous trumpet players. (Something in the air... NPR’s jazz blog just posted a feature on Woody Shaw with some highlights from his career.)

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"Wig Wise": A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Contributing Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

“Wig Wise” first showed up on the amazing 1963 piano trio album Money Jungle, featuring Duke Ellington on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums. To repeat: Duke Ellington on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums! The Money Jungle recording sessions were famously contentious; several stories are out there about who disagreed with whom, but it seems that there is a general consensus that Mingus was upset during these recording sessions. The group interplay throughout the entire album reflects the tension and makes for some exciting music. Jazz is a conversation among the musicians; on Money Jungle Ellington, Mingus, and Roach seem to be having a heated argument.

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All the Cooks in This "Mystic Brew": A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Contributing Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Although Ronnie Foster’s name may not be brought up very often in straight-ahead jazz circles, he is well-known in sample-based music. His best-known album as leader is his debut from 1972, The Two Headed Freap, which contains his best-known song, “Mystic Brew”. While the opening bassline of this song is by far the best-known part of the tune, the whole song grooves along mightily, with a nice organ solo from Foster. Starting with the killer bassline of this tune, some mellow vibes and guitar join in, adding a few layers. Around 0:20, Foster’s organ doubles the melody with the guitar. The organ solo starts around 1:00 – perhaps not the most sophisticated playing, but perfect for the song’s mood. Foster’s organ sounds very horn-like to me until around 2:15 when he starts playing some faster runs – I could imagine hearing this same solo from a trumpet. The drums pick up the intensity around 2:45. I’ve always liked the ascending organ lines starting around 3:30 that continue almost until the end of the song as it fades.