Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Monk of Sundays

I got three more Black History Month salvos loaded up to take us to the end of February, beginning with this boplicious broadside here.
Obviously today's gentleman needs little introduction.
I was thinking as I was preparing this the last couple of days how this guy subtly but profoundly influenced the entire vocabulary of harmony and melody in the 20th century, in terms of what was permissible.
It's a testimony to his artistry and the brilliantly angular corners of his conception that what people would have heard as melodic errors before he came on the scene, they came to hear not as mistakes but as deviations from expectation after his advent.
And it's all so danceable. Every tune this cat ever did can set the body into motion.
There's probably never been a composer whose material was at once so complex and difficult, yet so accessible and fun.
Along with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, he is the primary architect of Bebop, pure and simple.
What I have always loved most about his music is how all his songs sound cut of the same cloth -- as if they are endless variations on the same tune -- yet each is crystallized in a unique zone all its own, separate from the others yet inextricably linked.
He's been dead since a lotta folks were born, but his melodies and standard-setting tunes are being played by someone, somewhere on Earth, at all times.
Today we celebrate the inestimably timeless music of Thelonious Sphere Monk, with two Paris concerts from 56 years ago this weekend, taped on back to back nights in the City of Lights.
Thelonious Monk Quartet
Paris 1964

i.
Alhambra
Paris, France
2.22.1964

01 Stuffy Turkey
02 Brake's Sake
03 Blue Monk
04 Ruby My Dear
05 Rhythm-A-Ning
06 Epistrophy (theme)

Total time: 53:07

Thelonious Monk - piano
Charlie Rouse - tenor saxophone
Butch Warren - bass
Ben Riley - drums

spectral analysis indicates a pre-FM reel, possibly the master

ii.
Maison de la Radio
Paris, France
2.23.1964

01 Four In One
02 I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
03 Straight, No Chaser
04 drum solo
05 Well, You Needn't
06 Epistrophy
07 Blue Monk
08 Sweet and Lovely
09 Hackensack
10 Rhythm-A-Ning
11 Bright Mississippi 
12 Epistrophy

Total time: 1:47:50
disc break goes after Track 06

Thelonious Monk - piano
Charlie Rouse - tenor saxophone
Butch Warren - bass
Ben Riley - drums

spectral analysis indicates a pre-FM reel, possibly the master
retracked by EN, February 2020
both shows zipped together
847 MB FLAC here
I shall return on Tuesday with more mindmelting BHM madness, as we take a journey into some fierce Chicago Blues.
You needn't miss out on this classic pair of performances though, trust me. Charlie Rouse especially goes nuts in these, from the first beat he is in top form.
So pull 'em down and get on up... in this Monastery, we dance.--J.
10.17.1917 - 2.17.1982