Sunday, June 20, 2004

Thelonious Monk - Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia (Heyena, 2003)

There's a lot of live Thelonious Monk out there lately, with Columbia Legacy reissuing their live Monk sets and then this entry from the Monk estate via Heyena records. You need to be a real Monk fan to follow along with all of the reissues, he tended to perform the same compositions in concert, and while Monk's band was always wonderful when performing live, it comes down to a question of how many different versions of Monk standards you're looking for.

The band had been together for a number of years by the time this set was recorded in the spring of 1965, and knew the ins and outs of Monk's complex original compositions. Monk standards like "Well You Needn't" and "Rhythym - a - Ning" with the full band compliment Monk's short solo readings of the standards "Body and Soul" and "April in Paris."

What makes this release stand out from the multitude of Thelonious Monk discs is the inclusion os a bonus thirty minute DVD recorded live in Olso the following year. Monk is such a treat to see live - his flat fingered, cross handed piano is dizzying to watch with his feet bouncing every step of the way. Charlie Rouse stands like a sentry at the microphone, navigating his way through the compositions and making sure the band keeps to the path.

Send comments to: Tim