Record of the day: Thelonius Monk, "Monk in Paris"

Record of the day: Thelonius Monk, “Monk in Paris”

Thelonious Monk
Monk in Paris (Thelonious Records TMF 9316)

Thelonious Monk's record production is vast and there are equally numerous pirated albums documenting concert performances by this twentieth century genius. To try to stop this wave of illegal engravings, his son
of Monk decided to found a label, Thelonious Records, which officially offers sound documents that had been circulating clandestinely for too many decades. Extremely accurate in the engraving, these discs are also accompanied
from a DVD which offers other beautiful live performances by the pianist.

In this “Monk in Paris” we listen to an excellent concert recorded at the Olympia in Paris in 1965; the lineup is the classic quartet together with Charlie Rouse (sax), Larry Gales (double bass) and Ben Riley (drums), with whom Monk spent much of the last years of his activity around the world, always playing at levels of excellence . Milestones of Monk's repertoire such as “I Mean You”, “Rhythm-A-Ning” and “Epistrophy” alternate with piano reinterpretations of standards such as “Body and Soul” and “April in Paris”, where as usual Monk manages to get the impossible out of even the most worn out themes of
American Songbook looking at them through a distorting lens.

Charlie Rouse confirms himself as one of the best saxophonists of his generation, distributing inventive solos that travel the oblique paths of Monk's compositions with naturalness and imagination, while the support of the rhythm is always punctual and never intrusive. Monk's solos do not spare sharp moments but are always filled with great vitality and humour, surprising in their positioning themselves outside of tradition while at the same time being an integral part of it.

The audience is in raptures and you certainly can't blame them, it really is a great evening. The concert ad was equally good
Oslo which appears on the DVD, although unfortunately there are only three songs; however, there is something to lick your lips about with “Lulu's Back in Town”, “Blue Monk” and an enigmatic “'Round Midnight”, expertly filmed and sounding just as good as on the CD.
The chance to see Monk as well as hear him is not to be missed; his movements are expressive and necessary to hers

almost as poetic as the notes and underline every nuance, maximizing the energy of the concert.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.