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Directed by Charlotte Zwerin, the film documentary of Thelonious Monk's remarkable career features the pianist/composer in performance, along with his closest allies. The soundtrack includes his piano, his music, and his voice. It's an intimate portrait. The music for this film served to paint a musical portrait of Monk and his sidemen.
We hear John Coltrane in Monk's quartet, performing "Trinkle, Tinkle." Phil Woods, Johnny Griffin, Ray Copeland and Jimmy Cleveland join Monk's quartet in Stockholm to interpret "Epistrophy" and "Evidence." They're featured one more time, in Germany, for "I Mean You." Boppers all, the distinctive artists performed freely with Monk's urging. All except Cleveland take solos. Monk's piano speaks volumes. He could put more into one bar of music than some folks can apply to a whole song. His lighthearted approach to "Lulu's Back in Town" reveals another side of the artist: rooted in tradition. Four tracks are performed as solo piano pieces, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the documentary's aim. This aural portrait of Thelonious Monk documents his foundation, as well as his adventurousness. Going out with an eleven-and-a-half-minute "Straight, No Chaser," Monk's quartet takes the time to demonstrate thoroughly.
Track Listing: Straight, No Chaser; Pannonica; Trinkle, Tinkle; Ugly Beauty (rehearsal); Ugly Beauty; Epistrophy; Evidence; I Mean You (Stickball); Lulu's Back In Town; Don't Blame Me; Sweetheart of All My Dreams; 'Round Midnight; Straight, No Chaser.
Personnel: Thelonious Monk- piano, spoken commentary; Charlie Rouse- tenor saxophone, spoken commentary; John Coltrane, Johnny Griffin- tenor saxophone; Phil Woods- alto saxophone; Ray Copeland- trumpet; Jimmy Cleveland- trombone; Larry Gales, Wilbur Ware- bass; Ben Riley, Shadow Wilson- drums; Thelonious Monk, Jr., Nica de Koenigswarter- spoken commentary; Samuel E. Wright- spoken narration.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!