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Carmen Sings Monk is just one of five new reissues in BMG’s First Editions series, released under the rejuvenated Bluebird Jazz label. Other titles in the series’ first offering include Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney (Fancy Meeting You Here), Coleman Hawkins (The Hawk in Hi-Fi), Charles Mingus (Tijuana Moods) and Gil Scott-Heron (Free Will). Each release features enhanced sound quality, detailed liner notes, archival photographs and in most cases, special bonus/unreleased tracks. Recorded in 1988, Carmen Sings Monk contains two live tracks recorded at The Great American Music Hall, 11 original studio tracks, and five bonus/alternative selections. Adding words to Thelonious Monk's complex, quirky compositions would pose a challenge to any lyricist, but Jon Hendricks (who did half the songs), Abbey Lincoln, Bernie Hanighen, Sally Swisher and Mike Ferro did a beautiful job. Of course, Carmen McRae’s unique phrasing and subtle humour is perfectly suited to the lyrics, making this one of the finest recordings of her distinguished career. On the studio tracks McRae receives marvelous support from Clifford Jordan (tenor), Eric Gunnison (piano), George Mraz (bass) and Al Foster (drums); while former Monk tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and pianist Larry Willis perform on the live cuts. Inspired.
Track Listing: Get It Straight, Dear Ruby, It's Over Now, Monkery's The Blues, You Know Who, Little Butterfly, Listen to Monk, How I Wish, Man, That Was A Dream, 'Round Midnight, Still We Dream, Suddenly, Looking Back, + Alternate takes
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.