North Coast Brewing Up Some Monk
After creating the Brother Thelonious ale, the generous next step for North Coast Brewing was to produce the Brother Thelonious recording. Like the ale, proceeds from the music sales also benefit the Monk Institute. Stacked with Institute alumni and recorded at the New York's prestigious Avatar studios, the session was produced by Doug Moody and T.S. Monk. The quintet, led by the bright and nimble-handed pianist Helen Sung covers six Monk compositions, and presents four original tracks penned for this session. Like the annual competition, this disc introduces jazz fans to the future jazz stars. Readers of this website have noticed praise for the members of the Brother Thelonious Quintet; vocalist Gretchen Parlato, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (the 2007 Monk competition winner), saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Alan Hampton, and drummer James Alsanders.
After my sixth beer, which was PranQster, a classic yeasty Belgian golden ale, I naturally had to ask "why." What is the reason for North Coast Brewing to support jazz, and specifically Thelonious Monk's music? Well, North Coast Brewing, being the largest employer in Ft. Bragg supports its community from local volunteer fire departments to schools and libraries. After conceiving Brother Thelonious ale, their neighborhood expanded to support the Redwood Jazz Alliance, and Monterey Jazz Festival and jazz festivals in Healdsburg, and San Francisco. It wasn't until the next day when I undertook a 10 mile hike in a redwood forest (a wee bit of a headache) that I understood the Thelonious Monk part.
Certainly words fail trying to describe the redwoods, and you cannot take a proper photo. The are tallest living things on earth, and your time on earth is just a few moments of their existence. It is the experience of being in their presence that is the payoff, as it was for Mr. Rockefeller in 1931. Like the 300 foot trees, the music of Monk is a living, breathing creature worth preserving. Not just as a museum piece or dated recordings, but as new and renewed music making. And while I might not be a Rockefeller, I can support music by hearing it live and, of course enjoying my new favorite beer.