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Straight, No Chaser

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Album Review

This is the sixth studio album cut by Thelonious Monk under the production/direction of Teo Macero for Columbia and as such should not be confused with the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1988 film of the same name. The band featured here includes: Monk (piano), Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass). This would be the final quartet Monk would assemble to record with in the studio. While far from being somber, this unit retained a mature flavor which would likewise place Monk's solos in a completely new context. At times, this adaptation presents itself more subtly than others. For instance, Monk's extended solo in "Locomotive" never reaches beyond itself due in part to the tempo-laden rhythm section. The contrast of styles, however, appreciates the caliber of this particular solo, including an obvious assertion by Monk which leads the band, albeit temporarily, into playing double-time. Other recommended quartet selections on this disc include a liberated version of the title track, which highlights some stellar interaction between Monk and Rouse. The same can be said for "We See," which features the hardest bop on the album. In addition to the quartet sides, Straight, No Chaser contains two unaccompanied piano solos: "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "This Is My Story, This Is My Song." [The original disc only included six performances, half of which were edited due to the stringent time constraints of vinyl; subsequent reissues not only restored all of the previously abridged performances, but also added a trio of sides, two of which ("I Didn't Know About You: Take 1" and "Green Chimneys") are issued here for the first time.]

Customer Reviews

Blew me away forever

Yes, these other reviewers are right—this is a transformative album. When I first heard it, as a high school kid at the end of the 1960s, I suddenly understood why *modern” jazz was the heart of music and the soul of America. The work of a great American genius.


This is one of Thelonious Monk's finest albums; if you aren't familiar with his work please check it out. When I first decided I wanted to see what Jazz was about I purchased the "Best Of" several of the big names (Coltrane, Miles Davis, Armstrong, Ellington, Monk, etc). While I enjoyed them all, there is something so different, so refreshing, and so pleasantly unsetting in Monk's composition, improv, and distinctive dissonant piano playing that I fell in love with it immediately. If you love jazz but are unfamiliar with Monk's genius then please listen to this album immediately.

Kick butt Jazz right up the middle, makes your whole body move.

I was born in 1956. My dad, a sailor and then a cop, didn't have a lot. He had a hi-fi and a few albums. That's where I learned about Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. A little of the Duke. He was into the Swingled Singers a real lot. They did a lot of classical, a lot of Jazz and little Pop, all of it singing acapella. One of my favorites was The Washington Square Village Stompers. Great New Orleans Jazz. I went from all of this stuff into the Beatles at 10 years old. By the time Jimi Hendrix and the boys and girls from Monteray filled the scene my 15 & 16 year old friends were digging these old albums in the basement family room with me. I still love them all.

I, too, have tried many of the greats from Coltrane thru Louis & Ella to Miles Davis. Liked a lot of it. Couldn't really ride with Miles Davis too much. I've been missing it lately. Been stuck in the 70's and finding a lot of new alternative stuff that feels nice. Blues has run away with my soul. But, something was missing.

Got turned on to Green Chimneys, Thelonious Monk, and loved it. Right away my feet, my hips, my hands and my head were all moving to one instrument or another. Fantastic. I know where my ears are going to live for the next while.

Great album. Lots of fun.

John J S


Born: October 10, 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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