Monday, August 20, 2007

Thelonious Monk - Live at the 1964 Monterey Jazz Festival (MJFR/Concord, 2007)

The Monterey Jazz Festival's executive board has struck a deal with Concord Records to release CD's of selected concerts and to hopefully commission new works for recording. Among the first of the discs to be released is a recording of the always fascinating pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, accompanied on this performance by Monk regulars Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone and Ben Riley on drums and with Steve Swallow sitting in on bass. The all Monk program consists of four performances by the quintet, culminating with a wonderfully angular "Rhythm-a-Ning" that has Thelonious chipping off some particularly angular piano much like a master sculptor chips off flakes of granite. Five more horns under the direction of Buddy Collette join the group for the final two selections, adding a nice mini big band feel to the proceedings. Monk lays out for lengthy sections, and you can just imagine him doing the herky-jerky dancing around the bandstand he was famous for as the horns pour out his famous riffs. Overall this is a fine hour of live Monk. There are are a great many live Monk CDs available now, so this entry is joining a crowded market, but if your Monk collection has room for one more Thelionious Monk concert recording, this isn't a bad choice at all.

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