Columbia Legacy Jazz recordings, the reissue department of Columbia Jazz, has seriously upped the ante on documenting Thelonious Monk's Columbia work with two more fine, fine Monk reissues. As those may be familiar, Columbia re- released both Monk: Live at the It Club, and Monk Alone (solo piano)- within the past three years. Now come these two live sets, "in Tokyo" and "At the Jazz Workshop"(further accompanied by a 3-cd set- "The Columbia Years"- compilation) in this, the latest wave of the Monk reissue campaign at Columbia. Both of these live sets are 2 cd sets and, about the actual reissue status: the Tokyo set has never before seen US stores, whereas the Jazz Workshop date, previously issued here, now contains 26 previously-unheard minutes of play.
"Live in Tokyo" features an edition of the Monk Quartet (with Butch Warren- b, Frankie Dunlop- d) on display for the very first time in Japan. 1963 was in fact the first year Monk toured Japan, which of course has become a veritable motherlode of Monk devotees ever since. For whatever reason, Monk's music is extremely appealing to Japanese sensibilities; maybe they GET it a little more than the rest of us. Or maybe Monk was Japanese in a former lifetime. "Thelonious-san?"
In any event, this is fine live Monk that is on par with the fantastic Live at the It Club. Beginning on the first disc, there is a nearly 10-minute version of Monk's staple driving tune: "Straight, No Chaser". This gives way to his solo piano rendition of the popular song "Just A Gigolo", done stridingly and of course- with ample cheekiness. Lesser heard "Jackie-ing" is also in the fold on the first disc.
On the second disc (still Tokyo set), the tunes are "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You," "Hackensack, Blue Monk, and Epistrophy. There are fine and lengthy quartet outings on all three of the latter tunes.
All in all, this is Live Monk delivered with a true Monkian zest and it should be acquired by anybody who knows the power of the Monk one and wants a prime historical document (Monk coming to Japan for 1st time; now that was a revelation!)
Track Listing: Straight No Chaser; Panonica; Just a Gigolo; Evidence; Jackie-ing; Bemsha Swing; Epistrophy; I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You; Hackensack; Blue Monk; Epistrophy.