Archive for the Thelonious MONK Category

Thelonious MONK – 5 By Monk By 5 1959

Posted in JAZZ, Thelonious MONK on December 20, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thelonious MONK – 5 By Monk By 5  1959
[Analogue Prod 180g; LP 6 of 7 LP-Box The Riverside Tenor Sessions] 2496 & 1644.1


The title of this 1959 album nicely mirrors some of what makes Thelonious Monk so magical. He took common, simple elements and made them resonate with his personality. Monk brought Thad Jones on board for an extra harmonic line in the compositions, as well as his spirited soloing. “Jackie-ing,” named for his niece, opens the album like a national anthem being paraded through some country where we all ought to be living at least some of the time. And then 55 minutes later it all wraps up with “Ask Me Now”–surely one of the most beautiful pieces in jazz or any idiom.
As the 50s drew to a close, so did Thelonious Monk’s illustrious tenure on Riverside Records. In fact, the three dates needed for this title would be his penultimate for the label. The album’s concept placed five Monk originals into a five-person (read quintet) setting. Ironically, this was the first time that Monk had recorded with a lineup that so prominently displayed a standard bop rhythm section with both a trumpet and sax player. The quintet on Five by Monk by Five (1959) finds the pianist supported by Thad Jones (cornet), Sam Jones (bass), Art Taylor (drums), and Charlie Rouse (tenor sax) — who would continue working with the artist as Monk’s (more or less) permanent tenor saxophonist for the majority of the ’60s. In what had become somewhat of a tradition, the disc’s program boasts several of Monk’s more established melodies coupled with a few recent works. One of those was Jackie-ing — named incidentally after Monk’s niece. It commences the disc exemplifying the loose, disjointed and exceedingly difficult scores that would define Thelonious Monk as a premiere composer, arranger, and bandleader. This seemingly unkempt sound flies in the face of Monk’s thoroughly disciplined keyboard playing, as well as a solid component within the context of the full ensemble — which he skillfully demonstrates not only on Jackie-ing,  but on every entry within the long-playing effort. The songs’ opening jam is imbued with a hearty tug of war as Rouse’s animated lines tangle with Monk’s interjections and piano antics. Jones’ cornet is similarly worked into the tricky arrangements. To some, the sound — which is starkly disparate when compared to the timbre that exists among the comparatively subdued Rouse or Monk — can be notably disconcerting. When Five by Monk by Five was reissued in CD, the running order was augmented by two alternate takes of Played Twice — the other Monk-penned tune to have been debuted on the LP. ”
By Lindsay Planer.
Thelonious Monk- Piano
Thad Jones- Cornet
Sam Jones- Bass
Charlie Rouse- Tenor Sax
Art Taylor- Drums
Side A
A1. Jackie-Ing  6:06
A2. Straight, No Chaser  9:21
A3. Played Twice (Take 3)  7:59

Side B
B1. I Mean You (Monk, Coleman Hawkins)  9:47
B2. Ask Me Now  10:46
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Thelonious MONK Quartet – Live in Paris March 1966

Posted in JAZZ, Thelonious MONK on December 15, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thelonious MONK Quartet – Live in Paris March 1966
Thx to *Hans Koert* and *terrakeo*


During this European tour several concerts were recorded on film – well known are the Oslo and Copenhagen shots, but I found some film fragments that are less known. First of all a fragment probably made at the start of the concert at the Palais de la Mutualité in Paris (France) on the 20th of March, 1966. These two fragments are from a French broadcast, which makes the quality rather poor, but the shots are great. The Thelonious Monk Quartet featured Monk at the piano, Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums. The first shot was made from the very beginnings, behind the curtains, and includes some preparations before the concerts starts, which gives it that special feeling as if you are part of the performance. Great!
Thelonoius Monk- Piano
Charlie Rouse- Tenor Sax
Larry Gales- Bass
Ben Riley- Drums
01.I love you
02.Lulu’s Back in Town  Announcer
03.I mean you
04.Monk’s Dream

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Thelonious MONK – Brilliant Corners 1956

Posted in JAZZ, Thelonious MONK on December 4, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thelonious MONK – Brilliant Corners 1956
1982 Issue. OJC-026, RLP-226
Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York,in December 1956


By the fall of 1956, Riverside was finally primed to unleash Thelonious Monk upon the jazz world–straight, no chaser. Two superb piano trio albums of covers had set the stage for Monk the composer to re-emerge with horns, and the pianist responded with BRILLIANT CORNERS, one of his greatest recordings, featuring three classic new tunes and two formidable studio bands.

The Sonny Rollins featured on BRILLIANT CORNERS is a far more imposing presence than the young acolyte of previous Monk sessions, ust witness the title tune. With its multiple themes, quirky intervallic leaps, idiomatic rhythmic changes and tricky transitions in tempo, it is one of Monk’s masterpieces–a miniature symphony. So daunting were its technical challenges, that the final ending was edited on from another take. Rollins begins his solo with swaggering composure, boldly paraphrasing Monk’s vinegary intervals and trademark trills, before navigating the swift rapids of the double-time chorus with deft syncopations. Monk plies dissonance upon dissonance in his first chorus, playing rhythmic tag with Max Roach on the out chorus. Ernie Henry’s slip-sliding bluesiness is followed by a brilliant rhythmic edifice from Roach, who maintains melodic coherence at a drowsy tempo, then explodes into the final chorus.

Elsewhere, “Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are” is a soulful, easygoing blues, and Monk’s solo is a compendium of pithy rhythmic devices, bent notes and calculated melodic abstractions, played with enormous relaxation and swing. He concludes with heckling big-band figures that form the basis for Rollins’ expressive rhythmic testimonies. Monk employs the bell-like timbre of a celeste to stunning effect on “Pannonica,” one of his loveliest melodies and improvisations. And in closing, “Bemsha Swing” is a hard-swinging, conversational performance, with fine contributions from trumpeter Clark Terry, bassist Paul Chambers and Roach on drums and timpani.
“Brilliant Corners” is the most complex work in the 70-song Monk canon. It speeds up, it slows down, it shifts course abruptly – the musicians must have strained a few muscles trying to keep up with what was going on in Monk’s head. The rhythmic construction was so challenging that it took the band members 25 takes to get what they needed – and even then they never recorded it to Monk’s satisfaction. What we hear on the album is a patchwork spliced together from the various takes. It’s a gorgeously flawed work – while it may have been difficult to create, it is easy to listen to.
By Steve Greenlee.
Celesta, Piano – Thelonious Monk (Celeste on tracks: 3)
Alto Saxofon- Ernie Henry (tracks: 1 to 3)
Tenor Saxofono- Sonny Rollins (tracks: 1 to 3, 5)
Timpani- Max Roach (tracks: 5)
Trumpet- Clark Terry (tracks: 5)
Bass- Oscar Pettiford (tracks: 1 to 3) , Paul Chambers (3) (tracks: 5)
Drums- Max Roach (tracks: 1 to 3, 5)
A1. Brilliant Corners
A2. Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
B1. Pannonica
B2. I Surrender, Dear
B3. Bemsha Swing

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Thelonious MONK – Live In '66 (AVI)

Posted in JAZZ, MOVIES, Thelonious MONK on November 29, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thelonious MONK – Live In ’66 (AVI) 2006
(Jazz Icons)


The two complete live-in-the-studio performances on this DVD feature Thelonious Monk (piano) fronting a quartet with Charlie Rouse (tenor sax) and a taut, yet no-nonsense swinging rhythm section of Ben Riley (drums) and the latest addition — circa September of 1964 — Larry Gales (drums). As noted Monk historian Don Sickler mentions in his superior track-by-track liner notes analysis, modern viewers are tremendously fortunate to have access to multi-media footage of Monk and company in action. The sets — filmed two days apart — were shot as the pianist traveled on his fifth European tour. The excursion would take him for the first and only time to Norway. And it is in Oslo on April 15, 1966, that the combo performed this three-song mini set. The first of two versions of “Lulu’s Back in Town” — a component of the LP It’s Monk’s Time (1964) — gets things underway in fine style. The unit plunge themselves into the memorable melody and Riley certainly isn’t deterred by the absence of his full drum kit — which was purportedly “lost in transit” by the time cameras were ready to roll. A setup was cobbled together and the drummer was given the formidable task of making the best of a daunting situation. His solo certainly bears no outward indications of anything other than ease and confidence. The rollicking 12-bar blues original “Blue Monk” is approached with a jaunty gate as Rouse punctuates numerous subtle responses from the keyboardist. It is fascinating to observe Monk as he gets up and wanders around the bandstand listening intently before jumping back into the fray. The Oslo show then wraps up with an unhurried and beguiling “‘Round Midnight.” Even when seeming to struggle to locate the precise keys, the author remains witty, debonair, and the personification of cool as he incorporates his elbow to great effect — both visually and sonically. While Rouse certainly shines throughout, nowhere are his contributions as poignant than the almost subliminal interplay between he and Monk during the number’s concluding moments. Two days later on April 17, 1966, the gentlemen are captured in an audience-free Copenhagen, Denmark TV studio. Once again, a quarter-hour-plus reading of “Lulu’s Back in Town” allow the instrumentalists to build their respective offerings to a slightly hastened tempo. Modern eyes and ears are then treated to raw Monk as the unaccompanied “Don’t Blame Me” is a dazzling reminder that the man didn’t really need any support in order to effectively and emotively convey a message. The entire ensemble reconvenes for the suitably rousing standard Monk closer “Epistrophy.” Perhaps aware of the cameras, Monk seizes the moment to stretch out and give everyone another opportunity to weigh in with their final thoughts. While it should go without saying, the Thelonious Monk installment in the Jazz Icons series is mandatory media for Monk enthusiasts of all dimensions.
By Lindsay Planer, Rovi.
Thelonious Monk features two intimate concerts filmed three days apart in Scandanavia in the Spring of 1966 with a legendary quartet that includes drummer Ben Riley, bassist Larry Gales and tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. Thelonious Monk revolutionized jazz with his innovative musical approach and these remarkable performances allow viewers the rare opportunity to experience Monk’s genius up close on his classic compositions “Blue Monk,” “Epistrophy” and “’Round Midnight.”
Foreword: THELONIOUS MONK – I never called the man that once in our life together. I always called him “Daddy.” That’s who he was to me, but his genius shined through, even in that capacity.
My father, like any other artist, was pleased that I chose music as a career, but my getting in was going to be difficult—because of his reputation —and because of jealous fans. His plan was brilliant. He never mentioned music to me, really.

Inspiration and humility are the keys to the kingdom of jazz. He wanted no artificial quests on my part to be him. He was interested in who I was. Just as he was interested in who Coltrane was; who Miles was; who Wilber Ware was and so on. To find myself, I had to be myself, and he and my mother, Nellie, made sure my sister Boo Boo and I had the chance to do just that.

That is the genius of Thelonious Monk. Simplicity, directness and freedom to be yourself. So, I thank him as a fan, as a successful jazz musician who can always look to him for renewed inspiration and most of all I thank him for being such a wise and generous father.
All my love to you, “Daddy.”
T. S. Monk (June 2006)
Sample Liner Notes by Don Sickler: Thelonious Monk has been a prominent voice in jazz since the early 1940s, when he could be heard in New York City playing at Minton’s Playhouse (where he was house pianist), Monroe’s Uptown House and other Harlem clubs. He played with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra in 1942 and made his first official recording date as part of the Coleman Hawkins quartet in October of 1944. He was dubbed “The High Priest of Bebop” in the late ’40s, creating an extremely fertile musical environment with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and the other beboppers. He was a true innovator; always his own man—essentially creating his own musical world of melodies, harmonies and rhythms.

Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse was already established before he joined Monk. He played with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra in 1944 and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band in 1945. He made recordings with Tadd Dameron and Fats Navarro in 1947, and played with Duke Ellington from May 1949 to March 1950. He recorded with Clifford Brown in 1953, and by the mid 1950s was appearing on recordings by various leaders. In 1956 he started recording with Les Jazz Modes (he was a co-leader, with French hornist Julius Watkins), a group that played together until 1959. He made his first appearance with the Thelonious Monk Quartet on September 30, 1958, as the group was starting the last two weeks of an extended stay at the Five Spot Café in NYC.

Drummer Ben Riley caught everyone’s eye as a member of the Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis/Johnny Griffin two tenor sax quintet. His first recording with that group was in 1960. Riley continued to record with each of those leaders on their own individual recordings as well as with the dual sax group. In February 1962, Riley started recording with the piano-less quartet of Sonny Rollins (The Bridge album). Riley continued playing and recording with various groups throughout the next couple of years. He came to the attention of Thelonious Monk during Monk’s lengthy stay at the Five Spot Café starting in May 1963, and continuing until January 12, 1964. In those days, jazz clubs often had a double bill. Riley found himself playing six weeks opposite Monk, first in Walter Bishop Jr.’s trio, then in Bobby Timmons’ trio, and finally in Junior Mance’s trio. Monk never spoke to Riley, and Ben thought Monk had no idea who he was, until one night when Monk came up to him and said, “Who are you, the house drummer?” Riley got his first phone call from Monk near the end of that January, asking him to play on a recording session on January 29th. So Riley first played with Monk in the recording studio. He stayed with Monk until just before Christmas 1968.

Bassist Larry Gales joined the Davis/Griffin quintet on Riley’s recommendation a couple of months after Riley made his first recording with that group. All of Gales’ next recordings, until November 1962, teamed him with Riley. In September of 1964, when Monk was looking for a bass player, Riley recommended Gales. The rest is history. Gales also remained with the Monk quartet until just before Christmas 1968.

Lulu’s Back In Town- Monk plays the first half of the melody solo piano. Notice that he sets a faster tempo than the Oslo concert. Bass and drums enter at the bridge and the trio finishes the first chorus. Rouse enters and plays a whole melody chorus with the rhythm section. Remember the eight-measure A section background Monk played in the Oslo concert? Listen to the similarities and the differences here.

When Rouse solos, Monk comps behind his first chorus, but doesn’t play behind the second and third choruses. Instead, he stands, walks around, and does his little dance (watch for his right elbow moves).

Next, Monk solos for three choruses. Monk attacks the second chorus, and it sounds like he is going to play a third solo chorus, but then he starts to leave a lot of space and bassist Gales continues to “walk.” Notice Monk ends this solo, like he did in Oslo, with further variations of his eight-measure background theme, cueing the next soloist.

Gales plays three solo choruses, and Monk gets up from the piano again. When Gales starts his second solo chorus, he restates the melody, and we see Monk walk up behind him and whisper something in his ear. Monk rarely said anything on stage, so it would be fascinating to know what he says here. Riley starts his three chorus solo with brushes, creatively switching to sticks in the second eight measures of his second chorus.

The whole group re-enters after the drum solo, with Rouse soloing again until the bridge where he restates the melody. He solos for the rest of the chorus and one more complete chorus before restating the melody for the final chorus. This time he leaves the bridge open for Monk.
Fron Jazz Icons.
Live In Norway 1966 (Show I)

Piano- Thelonious Monk
Tenor Sax- Charlie Rouse
Bass- Larry Gales
Drums- Ben Riley
01.Lulu’s Back In Town
02.Blue Monk
03.‘Round Midnight
Live In Denmark 1966 (Show II)

Piano- Thelonious Monk
Tenor Sax- Charlie Rouse
Bass- Larry Gales
Drums- Ben Riley
01.Lulu’s Back In Town
02.Don’t Blame Me

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Thelonious MONK – Big Band and Quartet In Concert 1963

Posted in JAZZ, Thelonious MONK on November 28, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thelonious MONK – Big Band and Quartet In Concert 1963
CS 8964


This is a recording of the legendary pianist’s December 30, 1963 concert at New York’s Lincoln Center. The concert was something of a landmark, and commemorated Monk’s transformation from a long-standing controversial figure into a position as an Old Master (Time magazine put his portrait on the cover in early 1964). Quite simply, jazz had caught up to where Monk had been for 20 years. In a world where John Coltrane was developing his sheets of sound technique and people such as Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy were destroying long-held musical boundaries in the genre, Monk’s idiosyncratic melodies and playing style, full of long pauses and near-atonal note clusters in the midst of otherwise standard bebop piano solos, simply didn’t sound that weird anymore! As a result, this excellent and beautifully recorded concert functions as a long-deserved musical homecoming.
This is one of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk’s greatest recordings and represents a high point in his career. Performing at Philharmonic Hall in New York, Monk is heard taking an unaccompanied solo on “Darkness on the Delta” and jamming with his quartet (which had Charlie Rouse on tenor, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Frank Dunlop) on fine versions of “Played Twice” and a previously unreleased rendition of “Misterioso.” However, this two-CD set has its most memorable moments during the six full-length performances by a ten-piece group. Monk’s quartet was joined by cornetist Thad Jones, trumpeter Nick Travis, Steve Lacy on soprano, altoist Phil Woods, baritonist Gene Allen, and trombonist Eddie Bert. Jones and Woods have plenty of solos and, although Lacy surprisingly does not have any individual spots, his soprano is a major part of some of the ensembles. Most remarkable is “Four in One,” which after one of Monk’s happiest (and very rhythmic) solos features the orchestra playing a Hal Overton transcription of a complex and rather exuberant Monk solo taken from his original record. This album is a gem and can be considered essential for all jazz collections.

One of the most original pianists and composers in jazz history, Thelonious Monk had to wait for the rest of the world to catch up to him. He gained early experience being in the house band at Minton’s Playhouse in the early 1940s, developing his unique style while playing nightly after-hours jam sessions. While the music that resulted from the sessions developed into bebop, Monk came up with a percussive style influenced by Duke Ellington that was completely apart from bop. By 1947 when he made his first recordings as a leader for Blue Note, he was writing complex songs that had their own logic. His piano playing was sparse and rhythmic in an eccentric way while hinting at earlier stride pianists.

Although jazz is a music that prizes individuality, Thelonious Monk was considered too advanced even by the bop generation and he rarely worked in the early 1950s. His situation changed permanently in 1957 when a summertime engagement at the Five Spot with John Coltrane in his quartet was too exciting to ignore. Monk was discovered and became such a major name, that in early 1964 he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. The ironic part is that his music of the mid-1960s was no different than his forbidding sounds of the mid-1940s.

On December 30, 1963 when he was at the height of his fame, Thelonious Monk played a Philharmonic Hall concert with his quartet and a small big band. This double-CD, which expands upon the original LP, features Monk at the peak of his powers. He takes Darkness On The Delta as an unaccompanied soloist, his regular quartet with tenor-saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Butch Warren and drummer Frank Dunlop are showcased on a couple numbers, and the rest of the long program features a 10-piece group comprised of the quartet, cornetist Thad Jones, trumpeter Nick Travis, Steve Lacy on soprano, altoist Phil Woods, trombonist Eddie Bert and baritonist Gene Allen. Although Travis, Lacy, Bert and Allen do not get to solo (they are major parts of the ensembles), Jones and Woods have plenty of solo space.

Among the highlights are I Mean You, Evidence, Oska T., and especially Four In One. The latter includes a transcribed Monk piano solo arranged for the full ensemble (it sounds remarkable) and one of Thelonious’ most catchy improvisations.

This is one of the great Thelonious Monk sets, and serves as a perfect introduction to listeners not familiar with the unique Monk’s music.
By Scott Yanow. AMG.
Thelonious Monk- (Piano);
Steve Lacy- (Soprano Sax);
Phil Woods- (Alto Sax, Clarinet);
Charlie Rouse- (Tenor Sax);
Gene Allen- (Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet, Clarinet);
Nick Travis- (Trumpet);
Thad Jones- (Cornet);
Eddie Bert- (Trombone);
Butch Warren- (Bass);
Frank Dunlop- (Drums).
Side One
A1. I Mean You  12:42
A2. Evidence  12:38
A3. (When It’s) Darkness On The Delta  5:03

Side Two
B1. Oska T.  9:20
B2. Played Twice  6:24
B3. Four In One  11:03
B4. Epistrophy  2:00

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