Amazon.com Widgets

Thelonious Monk: Newport '59 (2013)

By Published: | 3,587 views
Thelonious Monk: Newport '59 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Only with hindsight can it be ascertained that 1959 marked the pinnacle of jazz music as a cultural force in the United States. In 1959, the Mount Rushmore presidents of jazz were recording their definitive statements: John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960), Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
1920 - 2012
piano
's Time Out (Columbia, 1959), Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
' Ah Um (Columbia, 1959), Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959) and Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
's The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic, 1959).

That year also signaled the upcoming split of allegiances for the post-World War II generations between jazz and the baby boomers' rock 'n' roll. At the center of this massive year was Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, a pianist at the zenith of his career. He had been championed by Alfred Lion on his small Blue Note Records label in the early 1940s, then recorded for Prestige and Riverside Records. This year included his famous Town Hall concert, a 10-piece presentation of his compositions and the pianist's partnership with saxophonist Charlie Rouse
Charlie Rouse
Charlie Rouse
1924 - 1988
sax, tenor
, which lasted for nearly sixteen years. Soon he would be signed to the behemoth Columbia Records and appear on the cover of Time Magazine. However, it can be argued, all of this served as a postscript to his musical masterwork.

Although pieces of this performance have been floating around as bootlegs, hearing Monk in full flight at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959, playing the now-familiar tunes, is a rediscovery of his genius. This release, part of a Wolfgang's Vault presentation of 300 classic Newport concerts (1955-1975), comes as a digital download or in a limited edition 180 gram vinyl edition. In quartet with Rouse, bassist Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1924 - 1981
bass, acoustic
and drummer Art Taylor
Art Taylor
Art Taylor
1929 - 1995
drums
, the pianist delivers a rousing performance described by Dan Morgenstern as "the greatest performance I have heard him give" and "the most moving experience of the festival."

With Monk dressed in a blue fedora, the band opens with the skip, hop and thunk of "In Walked Bud," Monk's tribute to his friend Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
. Rouse takes center stage here, smoothing out the serrated edges of Monk's piano, with the pianist satisfied to accompany before taking (for him) a quite relaxed solo, quoting songs from his oeuvre. "Blue Monk," an oft-called blues-blowing vehicle, features more of Rouse's yang to Monk's ying. Taylor's muscled drumming is a constant thrust here, and Jones walks the blues walk as the piece turns the outside venue into a very dark and smoky basement club. Monk's solo translates the blues into his personal dialect of sidelong melody.

Side two (it is an LP) opens with a perfect gem, "Crepuscule with Nellie." Monk delivers an entire life's work in just two-and-a-half minutes. It is a taste of what he and Rouse would bandy about over the next decade. "Well You Needn't" gets tossed back and forth between the players, while "Rhythm-a-ning" swings hard, with Taylor's bold drumming balanced by Rouse's calm delivery. Monk comps by punching his percussive chords behind Rouse. When he solos (his tapping foot can be heard), his internal logic transforms into the musical language that was once such a strange trip but is now so familiar.

Track Listing: Introduction; In Walked Bud; Blue Monk; Crepuscule with Nellie; Well You Needn't; Rhythm-a-ning.

Personnel: Thelonious Monk: piano; Charlie Rouse: tenor saxophone; Sam Jones: bass; Arthur Taylor: drums.

Record Label: Concert Vault

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Sponsor: Nonesuch Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google