Few things in jazz can possibly be better than previously unheard sets by late jazz greats. When that music comes from of the very spirit of jazz, Thelonious Monk, it is time for consideration and celebration. Lurking within the Thelonious Monk Family Archives is a mother lode of previously unreleased music by the jazz master. Now in a deal struck between Thelonious Records and Joel Dorn's most recent imprint, Hyena Records, this unissued material will be made public. The first release of this series is Monk in Paris'Live at the Olympia, a 1965 recording of Monk's Charlie Rouse/Larry Gales/Ben Riley group (perhaps his finest quartet).
Monk swings through seven selections well known to him (and others, for that matter). "Rhythm-A-Ning," "I Mean You," "Well You Needn't," and "Epistrophy" are issued by the band with supercharged focus and intensity. Monk swings hard and lays out when appropriate. Charlie Rouse is particularly inspired, equaling his boss with invention and insight. Riley and Gales are impeccable, as they always were in the period. Monk is in perfect Monk form, throwing off craggy harmonies and translated melodies as if from another dimension. The standards include "Body and Soul," the solo piano "April in Paris" and "Bright Mississippi."
The added bonus is archival footage included on a DVD of this same band performing in Oslo Norway a year later. It is a revelation to see Monk perform and note the intense deliberateness with which he chose his notes and produced that Monk sound. Like Beethoven, one can never hear too much Monk.