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Thelonious MONK (1917-82)

Live in Paris 16 april, 1961


FREMEAUX & ASSOCI…S FA 5653 [57:28], [59:31]







Monkís Mood

Bemsha Swing


Iím Getting Sentimental Over You

Crepuscule With Nellie

Well You Neednít



Body & Soul

I Mean You

April In Paris

Off Minor


Just a Gigolo


Body & soul (reprise)

Thelonious Monk (piano), Charlie rouse (tenor saxophone), John Ore (bass), Frankie Dunlop (drums)

rec.Olympia Theater, Paris, France (booklet & article say 18 April, 1961 despite both cover and CDs reading 16 April)

FREMEAUX & ASSOCI…S FA 5653 [57:28], [59:31]

Among the pathfinders in Jazz there is a special place for Thelonious Monk whose idiosyncratic pianism and innovative compositional talents puts him up there with all the other greats. It is impossible to mistake Monk for anyone else since his style of playing was so unique and his compositions so different from those of others. He occupies a niche distinguished by the fact that, as Marc Benham writes in booklet notes, there is a consensus among musicians that whatever their preference of jazz style be it traditional, bebop or free jazz all of them enjoy listening to Monk and to play his tunes in their own style.

There arenít many great jazz musicians that I was ever fortunate enough to see, either because I didnít know where to catch them playing, because I couldnít afford it or in the case of US jazzmen in particular when I was growing up there were barriers stopping them from coming to the UK. For whatever reason both Monk and Art Blakey managed to do so while touring Europe in 1961, during which tour these recordings were made, and I was lucky enough to see them both; an experience I shall never forget. In Monkís case I had never seen anyone who seemed so at ease while playing, so laid back to the extent that having finished his contribution he was quite likely to get up and wander around the stage watching the others or even to leave it. With his signature pork pie hat and his body movements while playing he cut an incongruously fascinating figure you couldnít take your eyes off.

I enjoy listening to all the Monk recordings I have and this two disc set will take a special place as it links me back to that time when I was lucky enough to have seen him. These recordings sound extremely fresh and are free from any distractingly extraneous noises and include many of his best known tunes. As well as his own he includes the ďstandardsĒ Iím Getting Sentimental Over You, Body And Soul, April In Paris (of course!) and Just A Gigolo.

His accompanying musicians for the tour were Charlie Rouse on sax who produces some blistering solos and the superb rhythm section in the shape of John Ore on bass and drummer Frankie Dunlop (Rhythm-a-ning is a good example of all threeís contributions); a dream team if ever there was one. Though only two pages long Benhamís article in the booklet describes far better than I could what facets of playing went together that carved out Monkís singular and ultra quirky style and which put him in a class of his own. Rather than try to describe what distinguished any particular tune on the set I think it is best to just finish by saying it is a must-have for all Monk fans and a perfect place for anyone who is still to discover what all the deserved fuss is about to explore his legacy; they cannot fail to be bowled over!

Steve Arloff

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