Thursday, September 24, 2009

The High Priest of Bop in the Alps...

He burst on to the jazz scene in the 40's seemingly fully formed but was misunderstood. He played ragged, choppy compositions with a supposed heavy-handed, clunky piano style.

Then the 50's arrived and he was celebrated as a genius almost ten years after the release of his Blue Note recordings. His compositions and playing style were so unique and recognizable that it was useless to compare him or his music to anyone else. He was unmistakably Thelonious Sphere Monk. John Coltrane commented that his stint with Monk was akin to going to university compared to his time with Miles Davis (which he likened to going to high school in comparison).

Then slowly things changed again...

What had initially been seen as individual behaviour on his part began to be interpretted as just plain weird. Instead of being considered one of the vanguard, he was increasingly thought of as the character who ran out of creative ideas more than a decade ago. Much was made of the fact that throughout the 60's he made a career out of playing "the same old songs".

But, man, what songs they are! And there's no taking that away from him.

Today's offering presents a February 26, 1964 quartet concert in Zurich, Switzerland. The lineup is: Thelonious Monk - piano; Charlie Rouse - tenor sax; Butch Warren - bass; Ben Riley - drums

The program plays out like this:
01) 11:00 Stuffy Turkey
02) 09:59 Brake´s Sake
03) 07:39 Blue Monk
04) 03:37 Hot Licks
05) 09:20 Well, You Needn't
06) 05:38 Rhythm-A-Ning
07) 04:41 Epistrophy
08) 08:25 Criss Cross
09) 08:43 Straight No Chaser
10) 11:38 I'm Getting Sentimental
11) 08:17 Light Blue
12) 06:40 Nutty 06:40 faded out on the bass...

Is there a jazz composer (except Duke Ellington) that has written as many classic, now standard pieces of music in the history of jazz? I think not.


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