Friday, March 3, 2017

Thelonious Monk Quintet feat. Steve Lacy

Reportedly, Thelonious Monk never liked his compositions being recorded by other artists. However, there were exceptions and one was Steve Lacy's Reflections, the first all-Monk-composition album recorded by someone rather Mr. Monk himself. Recorded in 1958, it also featured with Mal Waldron, Buell Neidlinger and Elvin Jones.

Whether because of the release of that or Monk's personal liking for Lacy, Monk invited him to play along his quartet in 1960. Monk had already complimented Lacy in at least one 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  Monk's compositions. The composer almost instantly hated it, however he had some nice words in his sleeve for Lacy and right after that UN gig he invited Lacy to play with him in the Jazz Gallery. Other gigs followed in 1960.

One existing recording of that brief stint comes from a radio broadcast in the World Jazz Series by CBS which I post 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, the date, March 3, 1960. [This accuracy of this date's been challenged. Please see the comment section.]

Kicking off with Evidence, in which Rouse is no less than stunning, the band 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, now we can see clearly that a o bound brought any secure future to anyone, but some Thelonious Monk recordings did.


  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.

  4. Hello,

    I am admiror of your blog. Here's a rather obscure Bill Evans recording. Maybe you don;t have it and will like it.

    If you would like to have access to my blog - Thinktoomuchjazz - please let me know and I will be glad to send you an invitation to it.

    Kind regards,

    Rob Oudshoorn, Holland

    Bill Evans – Live At Teatro Cecilia Meirelles (Rio de Janeiro, 1979)

    Album Title: Bill Evans Live In Rio de Janeiro

    Date: Sept, 1979


    1. Alfie
    2. Folhas de outono
    3. ‘Round Midnight
    4. Mash
    5. Stella by Starlight
    6. Sleeping Bee

    " this is the concert from Sept 29, 1979 "

    1. Thanks so much, Rob. I just downloaded it and will give it a listen tonight.


    2. Thank you, Rob (and Ehsan). I'm downloading the Bill Evans now. Do you know who is on bass and drums?

    3. A-ha! Never mind, I see it now in the downloads.

  5. I love Monk...he is deep like the truth

  6. According Martin Davidson from Emanem Records the date is August 27, 1960.

    He's released a Lacy CD in 2011 which includes two titles from the concert.

    STEVE LACY soprano saxophone
    CHARLIE ROUSE tenor saxophone
    JOHN ORE double bass
    ROY HAYNES drum set

    8 - EVIDENCE - 6:30
    9 - STRAIGHT NO CHASER - 8:22

    Analogue concert recordings made in Philadelphia (Quaker City Jazz Festival)
    - 1960 August 27

    Released on EMANEM 5016

    Five years before there was a CD on 'Rare Live Records' which included the same three titles offered here.

    1. Thanks. I'll double check the dates. For now, I've added a cautionary note to the text.