A Monk'S Dream

Michael Henningsen
2 min read
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Just less than a year ago, legendary jazz producer Joel Dorn joined forces with T.S. Monk, the only son of peerless pianist Thelonious Monk, to embark on an incredible and most satisfying journey: to present to the public—for the first time in most cases—“lost,” out-of-print and otherwise unheralded recordings featuring the elder Monk, including bootlegs and other intimacies. Their first release together was Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia, a wondrous single-strand concert affair.

For their second release, Dorn and Monk present another live piece, this one a collection of seven performances given at five different venues between 1961 and 1964, all of them featuring the unique “Lone Ranger and Tonto” dynamic, as stated by Dorn in his liner notes of Monk and cherished sideman, the great tenorist Charlie Rouse. The tunes here are each representative of Monk's incredible voice both as anchor and soloist, of composer and coach, bandleader and mentor. And the thing about Monk's music that can't be said about too many others operating (or having operated in) the jazz idiom is that once you've listened intently, you can never get enough. You can never hear the same Monk tune—even the same rendition of the same Monk tune—too many times.

Secondary to the CD component of this release is the three-song live DVD, recorded at London's Marquee Club in 1965. Three songs may not be much, but for many jazz aficionados (particularly those of us not yet thought of by the time Monk was at his peak), watching the angular, behatted master on the black and whites in glorious black and white is something of a religious experience.

A sentiment that relates to this package as a whole.

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