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Thelonious Monk & His Quartet
Paris Jazz Concert, Volume One, Olympia: 6 March 1965
Malaca Jazz Classics CD MJD1200

Live in '65

Ben Ohmart

With a title as long as that, it has to be great, right? Well, it's pretty close. Trouble is, I listened to a Duke Ellington CD right before this one, so my amazement at the piano playing isn't as fantastic as it might be. Monk seems to choose his keys with care, like a blind man looking for a glass of water. The Duke is a bit more generous with chords and energy.

Conclusive "Evidence" begins the 65 min. CD, this song filled with long sections of Charlie Rouse's sax solo, drums tripping over themselves like a Coltrane jam session. In a way, I'd call the Monk's form of jazz an acquired taste. It's not the sort of thing you can just put on and forget. It won't underline Your moods, it's going to go at its own pace and timber. There are long breaks of seeming silence where only the drums and bass line are allowed to speak. Great for watching on the concert stage, but unless you're sitting down in your home, just listening to the music, it's gonna be damn hard to make out a lot of this if you're trying to wash the cat or fry bacon.

The only tune I definitely recognize on the CD is track 4, "Sweet and Lovely," by Arnheim/Tobias/Daniels. It's of course a classic, and the longest track here. Yep, nearly sixteenminutes of classic. It's a bit quiet at times, but it'll wake you up eventually. I wonder at times if the audience was completely awake all the way through. Sometimes–except for the sound quality–I forget this is a live recording. But, on second thought, I can't imagine being there myself; kind of like being at a Brian Eno concert. I think you might have to be a real fan to sweat it out.

That said, though, I like this album. It grooves, it mellows, it will slice your sandwich and put the pickle just where you want it. But if this is your first Monk, best get yourself to a faster church.

performers  Thelonious Monk, piano; Charlie Rouse, tenor sax; Larry Gales, bass; Ben Riley, drums;

songs  Evidence · Blue Monk · Four In One · Sweet and Lovely · Rhythm-A-Ning · Epistrophy

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