Thelonious Monk

Monk 'Round the World [Bonus DVD]

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This valuable compilation includes excerpts from five separate live performances recorded between 1961 and 1964, featuring Thelonious Monk and his longtime tenor saxophonist, Charlie Rouse, with three different rhythm sections. No matter which quartet is playing, the cohesiveness of the band is readily apparent as they dig into the possibilities within each the pianist's compositions, most of which have since become jazz standards over the decades. Monk is at his most playful in the sprightly "Rhythm-a-Ning" (based upon the chord changes to "I Got Rhythm"), which fuels Rouse's imagination during his solo. Monk's roots in stride piano occasionally slip into focus as well. It's impossible not to smile during Monk's humorous solo with "Hackensack" (based upon the Gershwin's "Oh, Lady Be Good!"), though the exchanges between Larry Gales and Ben Riley are also delightful. The second disc is a bonus consisting of three selections from a 1965 set at the Marquee Club in London. The video source material, in black and white, is remarkably well preserved, while it is also a rare opportunity to truly appreciate how focused his quartet with Rouse, Gales, and Riley actually was. The final image is of Monk turning slightly toward the audience and smiling, a great way to close a delightful new addition to the pianist's considerable discography. Highly recommended.

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