Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thelonious Monk Quintet feat. Steve Lacy

Reportedly, Thelonious Monk never liked his compositions recorded by other artists. One exception was Steve Lacy's Reflections, recorded in 1958 (with Mal Waldron, Buell Neidlinger and Elvin Jones which was actually the first all-Monk-composition album recorded by someone rather Mr. Monk himself.).

Whether that was the main factor or something else unbeknownst to us, Monk invited Lacy to play along his quartet in 1960.

Monk had already complimented Lacy in at least one (not very auspicious) occasion: during a gig at the UN
building in New York City, Jimmy Giuffre Quartet featuring Steve Lacy played opposite Thelonious Monk where they performed two interpretations of Monk's compositions. The composer almost instantly hated it, however he had some nice words in his sleeve for Lacy. It was after the UN gig that Monk invited Lacy to play with him in the Jazz Gallery.

One existing recording of that brief stint comes from a radio broadcast in the World Jazz Series by CBS which I present here. Monk is accompanied by Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone), John Ore (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums). The occasion was the Quaker City Jazz Festival in Philadelphia, and the date, March 3, 1960.

Starting with Evidence whose Rouse is no less than stunning, they plunge into Straight No Chaser. Rythym-A-Ning is the final song on which Lacy's solo get muddied with an annoying series of announcements, first by Louis Armstrong, and then by the CBS announcer who encourages folks to buy the US saving bounds for a more secure future. Needles to say, my definition of a secure future is a Thelonious Monk solo album.

Big thanks to BigO for making it online and also for his political column which I follow enthusiastically.

Enjoy the show!

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  1. Thanks for putting this up, Ehsan. Great show indeed.

  2. What a document ! I have heard of this collaboration for years now, but I always assumed that there weren't any recordings.

    There is a weird vinyl-like skip at the beginning of the first bridge (00:27) of the first exposition of the melody - is the source of the recording a vinyl disc ? ("needles to say" … ? as you said in your article…(?!?) -)

    At first I thought that TSM changed the structure of the tune (very rare for him, with the exception of the 2/4 measure before the bridge of "Played Twice"…), but upon several listens, it's clear that the recording skips to the 3rd measure of the bridge.

    Thanks for your work !

    1. I'm not sure if this one has been issued on vinyl.

  3. Wonderful, thanks for the share!!! It's inspired me to pull out all of my Monk tributes. My most favorite of all would have to be Jaws/Griff - Lookin At Monk; although probably not the best.