Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


J.R. Monterose: J.R. Monterose: J.R. Monterose


Sign in to view read count
J.R. Monterose
J.R. Monterose
Blue Note

Tenor saxophonist J.R. Monterose (Frank Anthony Monterose, Jr.) made only two appearances on Blue Note, both in 1956—one with trumpeter Kenny Dorham's Jazz Prophets recorded live at the Café Bohemia and the other as a leader of his own crack hard bop unit. It was an early ascendancy for Monterose, who had recorded with bassist Charles Mingus, vibraphonist Teddy Charles, and worked in the big bands of arranger Claude Thornhill and drummer Buddy Rich. But unlike tenor players Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley and Tina Brooks, Monterose wouldn't make a home (and barely a sonic dent) on Alfred Lion's label, much less in New York. He was soon back in his hometown of Utica and not long for a European sojourn that lasted most of the rest of his life.

Presumably, it had nothing to do with Monterose's abilities that his time with Blue Note was so brief; rather, a loss of the proverbial cabaret card scuttled his appearances in the city and his ability to make work. On this program of three originals and readings of tunes by session drummer Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers and Donald Byrd, he's joined by scene regulars in pianist Horace Silver and Jones, as well as Chicagoans bassist Wilbur Ware and multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. Sullivan is heard here on trumpet, but also had baritone, alto saxophone and flute in his arsenal.

Perhaps one reason Monterose's name isn't mentioned even among the heavy birds in Blue Note's stable is because his sound was, even at this fairly early stage, extraordinarily individual—echoes of Chu Berry and Coleman Hawkins in his massive tone and the odd, quotable cadences of Sonny Rollins. Yet his influence lay more in pianists. Harmonically, Monterose cited Bud Powell (which would give him a passing affinity with alto saxophonist Jackie McLean), and his solos are odd-metered whirls, half-dissolved licks and emphatic blats that seem directly linked to isolationist pianistic flourishes.

The leader's mid-tempo composition "Wee Jay" is the lead-off track here, and is reprised in an alternate take on this Rudy Van Gelder remaster edition. Monterose probes shards of the theme, a lilting and fragmentary cadence of honks and blats with their edges rounded and velvety, slowly strung together in flourishes and then broken apart. There are echoes of Rollins (circa the contemporaneous Vanguard recordings) in his attack. Lingering a little behind the beat he's still an extraordinarily rhythmic player, riding the rhythm section's wave in alternating swirls and pointillist jabs. Silver is conspicuously absent for the first few bars of Monterose's solo, perhaps trying to find a way in with his comping—the tenor man's phrases are obviously a world unto themselves. For those used to Silver's hard, churchy approach, his touch is much lighter here, perhaps because Monterose, Ware and Philly Joe bring such meat to the proceedings.

Donald Byrd's "The Third" follows; a jagged and nearly stop-time theme that fits well with Monterose's sinewy and stammering patterns as a soloist. He takes cues from Silver's arpeggiated cascades, hopping and pirouetting into a collective dance with Sullivan. The trumpeter is an excellent front line foil, a brittle and ragged logic that fills the holes in the leader's quixotic play of force and filigree. It's hard to imagine a player like Monterose making cookie-cutter hard bop sessions the likes of which fill out the catalogs of many jazz labels from the period. However, he was certainly up to the task of making a warm and utterly unique contribution to the field, and having this date available again in stunning sound is a welcome homage to an uncompromising and individual saxophonist.

Tracks: Wee Jay; The Third; Bobbie Pin; Marc V; Ka-Link; Beauteous; Wee-Jay (alternate take).

Personnel: J.R. Monterose: tenor saxophone; Ira Sullivan: trumpet; Horace Silver: piano; Wilbur Ware: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums.

Title: J.R. Monterose: J.R. Monterose | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!" Extended Analysis Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" Extended Analysis The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)" Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's" Extended Analysis The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017