Thelonious Monk

Live in Paris, Vol. 2

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For Volume Two/set two of the February 23, 1964 live performances in Paris by the Thelonious Monk quartet, show time is just under an hour, and near the mid-point, the inspiration level palpably increases. This upgrade is most noticeable during a spirited "Hackensack" where Monk is markedly involved harmonically, but especially on the following number "Rhythm-A-Ning," sharply played with more energy, invention and collective interplay. The format remains the same throughout with tenor sax-piano-bass-drums solos in strict order between heads and tails. Charlie Rouse changes up the melody and messes with it a bit during the "Sweet Georgia Brown" adaptation "Bright Mississippi," where the briefer solos move the piece along. The longer stride-to-tender moments for Monk's intro, over a minute-and-a-half, alludes to the slow tempo, precluding Rouse's nice chord substitutions prior to overtly long solos, particularly Butch Warren's extended unaccompanied discourse. A typical unison melody played twice for "Blue Monk," and another five minute "Epistrophy" as on Live in Paris, Vol. 1 bookends the set. The second show is noticeably stronger, as Monk himself is engaged as he noticeably was not on the previous set. Both volumes are good companion pieces, historic recordings for sure, nothing earth shattering or revelatory, but decent additions to Monk's discography, probably best appreciated by completists.

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