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Monk's Blues

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Album Review

Although nostalgia has allowed Monk's Blues to age more gracefully than perhaps the recording deserves, it remains an unfortunate fact that Thelonious Sphere Monk's final studio sessions were very poorly conceived. The idea of Monk performing with a big band was inspired nobly enough by the February '59 NYC Town Hall performance which was issued as Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall. These studio recordings fall far short of that classic live encounter. However there are a few brief moments of inspiration that are not overcome by random blasts from an over driven hollow sounding horn section. The challenge of arranging Monk for big band instrumentation fell upon Oliver Nelson, whose best remembered works include an array of television theme songs — Ironside, Columbo and the Six Million Dollar Man among them. Many of the same techniques are likewise incorporated into the approach Nelson uses on Monk Blues. Perhaps it is cosmically fitting that the sessions were held at Columbia studios in tinsel town. There are a few write offs. "Rootie Tootie" is destroyed by an overwrought brass section which completely drowns Monk. "Consecutive Seconds" — one of the two compositions penned by producer Teo Macero — is simply abysmal. If this was an attempt to get Monk to play soul music it failed. It does succeed in sounding embarrassingly dated however. Thelonious' genius shines through on some of the more sensible and sensitive arrangements such as "Reflections", "Monk's Point" and the surprisingly tasteful "Brilliant Corners. The 1994 CD edition adds two performances not featured on the vinyl incarnation. "Blue Monk" features a stirring solo from Thelonious. "'Round Midnight" is a previously unissued solo side cut at the Monk's Blues sessions. The sheer brilliance in Monk's emotive and seemingly frustrated intonations may well be an exorcism for the sins of the rest of the album.


Born: 10 October 1917 in Rocky Mount, NC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

The most important jazz musicians are the ones who are successful in creating their own original world of music with its own rules, logic, and surprises. Thelonious Monk, who was criticized by observers who failed to listen to his music on its own terms, suffered through a decade of neglect before he was suddenly acclaimed as a genius; his music had not changed one bit in the interim. In fact, one of the more remarkable aspects of Monk's music was that it was fully formed by 1947 and he saw no need...
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Monk's Blues, Thelonious Monk
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  • 7,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Blues, Bop
  • Released: 1968

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