The first thing you notice about Monk is the clipped phrases and unexpected turns in his compositions. With Charlie Rouse and above average rhythm sidemen, Thelonious Monk always turned heads. This three-disc compilation includes his familiar compositions as well as those not quite so familiar. They’re all fascinating and worthy of dedicated study.
Disc One centers on reissued studio sessions in trio and quartet format. At the piano, Monk thrills with his use of unique tone clusters and devil-may-care keyboard rants. There’s always a high level of energy, even though the tempo varies from a slow and deliberate “Pannonica” to a jumpin’ and jivin’ “In Walked Bud.” Jon Hendricks parades both lyrics and scat singing proudly around the classic tune.
Disc Two combines big bands in both studio and live sessions with solo piano and quartet segments in concert. Monk’s piano work stands apart as powerfully percussive and full of vigor. The take presented here of “Blue Monk” with studio big band swings with passion and heats up considerably. Soloist Rouse is in fine form. It’s a different take than that released in 1994 on the CD reissue of Monk’s Blues. From a 1967 solo piano concert performance in Puebla, Mexico, Monk performs “Don’t Blame Me” with deliberately slow and meaningful expression. “I Mean You” is from Columbia’s 1963 LP Big Band And Quartet In Concert, also released on CD in ’94 by Sony. Thad Jones, Charlie Rouse, Frankie Dunlop and Phil Woods contribute exciting solos alongside Monk’s fresh performance.
Disc Three offers live Monk performances in concert and club settings, with both small and large ensembles. At the Newport Jazz Festival with Pee Wee Russell, and at the Monterey Jazz Festival with a nonet, Monk and Rouse swing heartily. In Stockholm, Monk is with a small ensemble that includes Johnny Griffin, Phil Woods and Ray Copeland. At the It club in Los Angeles, he’s in vintage form with Rouse, Larry Gales and Ben Riley.
Columbia’s compilation runs for three and a half hours and includes no alternate takes or incomplete segments. While many of these pieces are classic Monk compositions, producer Orrin Keepnews has decided to repeat nothing and present each one at its best. This chapter in Jazz’s history is a vital one that has been preserved well for our generation and for those who are just starting out.
Track Listing: Bye-Ya; Coming on the Hudson; Rhythm-A-Ning; Think of One; Pannonica; Crepuscule With Nellie; April in Paris; Ugly Beauty; Honeysuckle Rose; In Walked Bud; Thelonious; Reflections; Blue Monk;
Personnel: Thelonious Monk- piano; Pee Wee Russell- clarinet; Steve Lacy- soprano saxophone; Phil Woods- alto saxophone, clarinet; Buddy Collette- alto saxophone, other reeds; Ernie Watts, Gene Cipriano- alto saxophone; Johnny Griffin, Tom Scott, Charlie Rouse- tenor saxophone; Jack Nimitz, Ernie Small- baritone saxophone; Gene Allen- baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Thad Jones- cornet; Nick Travis, Bobby Bryant, Conte Candoli, Freddie Hill, Melvin Moore, Ray Copeland- trumpet; Eddie Bert, Lou Blackburn, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Byers, Mike Wimberly, Jimmy Cleveland- trombone; John Ore, Butch Warren, Steve Swallow, Larry Gales- bass; Frankie Dunlop, John Guerin, Ben Riley- drums; Howard Roberts- guitar on
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.