Posts Tagged ‘Thelonious Monk’

Sleeve Notes: Underground

17 November 2010

Revolutionary, with a sense of humor. Perfect cover art for Thelonious Monk.

Doubleshot Tuesday: Glenn Gould/Mac Rebennack

2 February 2010

[Today: Eccentric pianists...]


Pianists have hardly cornered the market on oddball behavior among musicians, but the roster of eccentric ivory ticklers – including Sun Ra, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Liberace, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elton John – is impressive. Classical interpreter Glenn Gould and New Orleans gumbo cooker Mac Rebennack are two more lovably screwy pianists. They had unique quirks and make different music from one another, but both are intensely possessed by the spirit of their music (sorry for jumping tenses, Gould died in 1982, while Rebennack rocks on).

Born in Toronto in 1932, Gould was a piano prodigy who played professionally at age 12 and graduated from the Toronto Conservatory of Music at 13. He became widely regarded as one of the finest interpreters of Bach, and was also known for his eccentric behavior. He was extremely particular about the height of his piano and the room temperature when he was recording, and would hum and sing along with the music as he was playing, driving his sound engineers to distraction and earning a few negative reviews in the process. Gould’s methods may have been unorthodox, but his results speak for themselves. In the documentary clip below, he comes off as a mad genius – so lost in his music that the world around him ceases to exist. As his fingers dance over the keys, it’s almost possible to see the music pouring through Glenn Gould’s brain, and it’s a sight to behold.

Mac Rebennack was a longtime professional sideman who changed his persona to Dr. John, The Night Tripper and recorded his debut album on time left over from a Sonny & Cher session. His first four LPs featured deep ‘Nawlins swamp voodoo that bordered on performance art. As Dr. John, Rebennack took to wearing scarves, headdresses, robes and voodoo priest makeup while he and his band conjured a dark, spooky atmosphere. But by the early/mid-70′s, he morphed into a first-line funkateer, and a sartorial precursor to Elton John. While he’s since matured into something of an elder statesman, Dr. John’s music always has a unique flavor. Listen up and laissez les bons temps rouler

*****

Glenn Gould, from the documentary The Art Of The Piano:

Dr. John, in a 1988 appearance on the TV show Night Music:

Magic Moment: Blue Monk

22 August 2009

Thelonious Monk was one cool cat. He had his own rhythms, made up of notes that nobody else could touch. Dig the way he shuffles his feet under the piano, how he bangs the keys with the side of his hands and then twists his fingers to get just the right play off the black and white keys. His band deserves a nod, particularly tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse – keeping up with Monk must have been like catching a knuckleball pitcher while walking a tightrope. These rhythmic acrobatics are from Oslo, 1966…

Weekend Playlist

13 July 2009

Music, not sex, got me aroused.” – Marvin Gaye†

Queens Of The Stone Age | Rated R
Queens Of The Stone Age | Rated R

New Order | Republic
New Order | Republic

Various Artists | KB Presents... Early 90's Hip-Hop Gems & Walkman Hits
Various Artists | Early 90′s Rap Gems & Walkman Hits

Miles Davis | E.S.P.
Miles Davis | E.S.P.

Howlin' Wolf | Howlin' Wolf
Howlin’ Wolf | Howlin’ Wolf

Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo
Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo

Marvin Gaye | Trouble Man
Marvin Gaye | Trouble Man

Hercules And Love Affair | Hercules And Love Affair
Hercules And Love Affair | Hercules And Love Affair

The Human League | Dare
The Human League | Dare

Frankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome To The Pleasuredome
Frankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome To The Pleasuredome

Chic | Greatest Hits
Chic | Greatest Hits

Sting | Bring On The Night
Sting | Bring On The Night

Magnolia Electric Co. | Trials & Errors
Magnolia Electric Co | Trials & Errors

Freddie King | Let's Hide Away and Dance Away
Freddie King | Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away

Gabor Szabo | ©Paul Slaughter
Gabor Szabo | Blowin’ Some Old Smoke
[Album cover not pictured]

Richard & Linda Thompson | Shoot Out The Lights
Richard & Linda Thompson | Shoot Out The Lights

Front 242 | Front By Front
Front 242 | Front By Front

Sonic Youth | Daydream Nation
Sonic Youth | Daydream Nation

Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes | Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes
Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes | Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes

Various Artists | Soul Sides Volume One
Various Artists | Soul Sides Volume One

Tom Tom Club | Close To The Bone
Tom Tom Club | Close To The Bone

Jane's Addiction | Nothing's Shocking
Jane’s Addiction | Nothing’s Shocking

Cymande | Second Time Around
Cymande | Second Time Around

The Rolling Stones | Emotional Rescue
The Rolling Stones | Emotional Rescue

Various Artists | Disco Hustle
Various Artists | Disco Hustle

KC & The Sunshine Band | Part 3
KC & The Sunshine Band | Part 3

Ben Webster | Atmosphere For Lovers And Thieves
Ben Webster | Atmosphere For Lovers And Thieves

Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker
Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker

Thelonious Monk | Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two At The Blackhawk
Thelonious Monk | At The Blackhawk

Dino Valente | Dino
Dino Valente | Dino

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

*****

†[The opinion expressed here is the viewpoint of Marvin Gaye, and doesn't necessarily reflect the opinion of dk presents...]

Weekend Playlist

11 May 2009

Here’s a look at some of the albums that kept me and The P company over the weekend…

Death | ...For The Whole World To See
Death | …For The Whole World To See

Buddy Guy | This Is Buddy Guy!
Buddy Guy | This Is Buddy Guy!

Thelonious Monk | Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two At The Blackhawk
Thelonious Monk | Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two At The Blackhawk

Booker Little | Booker Little
Booker Little | Booker Little

Art Pepper | Intensity
Art Pepper | Intensity

Van Morrison | Veedon Fleece
Van Morrison | Veedon Fleece

Little Feat | Little Feat
Little Feat | Little Feat

Dexter Gordon | Our Man In Paris
Dexter Gordon | Our Man In Paris

Frank Morgan | Lament
Frank Morgan | Lament

Jimmy Rogers | Chicago Blues Masters: Volume Two
Jimmy Rogers | Chicago Blues Masters: Volume Two

Steve Earle
Steve Earle | Great American Music Hall – 1/17/96
[Album cover not pictured]

John Lee Hooker | Chill Out
John Lee Hooker | Chill Out

Mariachi illustration
Various Artists | Pasión Mexicana
[Album cover not pictured]

Black Keys | Attack & Release
The Black Keys | Attack & Release

Led Zeppelin | Houses Of The Holy
Led Zeppelin | Houses Of The Holy

Stephen Stills | Just Roll Tape
Stephen Stills | Just Roll Tape

The Beatles | Meet The Beatles!
The Beatles | Meet The Beatles!

The Kinks | Kinda Kinks
The Kinks | Kinda Kinks

The Temptations | Puzzle People
The Temptations | Puzzle People

Brazilian Girls | Brazilian Girls
Brazilian Girls | Brazilian Girls

Deep Purple | Deep Purple In Rock
Deep Purple | Deep Purple In Rock

Donald Byrd | Long Green
Donald Byrd | Long Green: The Savoy Sessions

The White Stripes | The White Stripes
The White Stripes | The White Stripes

Madeleine Peyroux | Half The Perfect World
Madeleine Peyroux | Half The Perfect World

M. Ward | Transfiguration Of Vincent
M. Ward | Transfiguration Of Vincent

The Mighty Imperials | Thunder Chicken
The Mighty Imperials | Thunder Chicken

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss | Raising Sand
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss | Raising Sand

Taj Mahal | Giant Step/De 'Ole Folks At Home
Taj Mahal | Giant Step/De ‘Ole Folks At Home

The Billy Cobham - George Duke Band | "Live" On Tour In Europe
The Billy Cobham – George Duke Band | “Live” On Tour In Europe

Cal Tjader | Soul Sauce
Cal Tjader | Soul Sauce

Talking Heads | The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
Talking Heads | The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads

Miles Davis | 'Round About Midnight
Miles Davis | ‘Round About Midnight

Stanley Turrentine | A Chip Off The Old Block
Stanley Turrentine | A Chip Off The Old Block

Coleman Hawkins | Soul
Coleman Hawkins | Soul

Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once
Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once

The Jam | Beat Surrender (EP)
The Jam | Beat Surrender (EP)

The Incredible String Band | The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion
The Incredible String Band | The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion

Weekend Playlist

2 March 2009

Here’s a sampling of what passed over our turntable this weekend:

Art Pepper - Intensity
Art Pepper | Intensity

Lee Morgan | Tom Cat
Lee Morgan | Tom Cat

Miles Davis | E.S.P.
Miles Davis | E.S.P.

Donald Byrd | Long Green
Donald Byrd | Long Green: The Savoy Sessions

Duke Ellington | Ellington At Newport
Duke Ellington | Ellington At Newport

Dexter Gordon | One Flight Up
Dexter Gordon | One Flight Up

Johnny Griffin | The Little Giant
Johnny Griffin | The Little Giant

Roy Eldridge | Heckler's Hop, 1935-40
Roy Eldridge | Heckler’s Hop: 1935-1940

Booker Little | Booker Little
Booker Little | Booker Little

J.J. Johnson | J.J. Inc.
J.J. Johnson | J.J. Inc.

Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker
Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker

Thelonious Monk | Monk's Music
Thelonious Monk | Monk’s Music

Clark Terry | Serenade To A Bus Seat
Clark Terry | Serenade To A Bus Seat

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers | Like Someone In Love
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers | Like Someone In Love

Hank Mobley | The Turnaround!
Hank Mobley | The Turnaround!

Charles Mingus | Mingus Ah Um
Charles Mingus | Mingus Ah Um

Masterpiece: Thelonious Himself

10 October 2008

[Today: The other side of life...]

This might come as a surprise to regular readers of this space, but I have other interests besides music. I’ve read a book or two and done some volunteer work for the local SPCA. I enjoy sports and have been known to shoot the rock on the basketball court. I love my wife, and I have a number of friends I deeply admire. And lately I’ve become a political junkie – endlessly reading papers and blogs, watching all the debates from start to finish, and generally keeping up with the developments of the presidential campaign, which (oh, by the way) has become inextricably tied to the tanking US and world economies. The bitter, angry tone of the ongoing campaign is alarming, and the daily financial news is staggering, to say the least.

Sometimes music feels like an extravagance, a diversion that doesn’t work because I know it’s merely a diversion (Republicans take note). Last night I stood and stared at my record collection for a long time, trying to decide if I was even up for a listen. I found a sound in my head – a sad, lonely horn – and went looking through my collection for it. What I ended up with was Thelonious Himself. Not a horn, I’ll admit, but the tone was just what the doctor ordered.

Monk kind of staggers around on his piano in a way that doesn’t immediately make sense to the ears. He connects the dots within a tune in unlikely ways, using what he called “the notes between the notes, the blue notes.” On Thelonious Himself, those blue notes are left to fend for themselves, as there’s no band playing keep up with Monk. These songs are down to a single, eccentric genius, picking out notes in the wilderness and trying to find his way home to the melody. He always seems to arrive in the nick of time, just before the tune collapses. The solitary, stark brilliance of Thelonious Himself makes it the ideal record for those evenings when you’re not in the mood for music, or much of anything else.

Listen: I Should Care

Coolin’ Out

28 March 2008

It was gorgeous in the East Bay this week, with unseasonably warm weather and new blossoms on seemingly every branch. It’s amazing how much an upturn in the temperature puts a spring in everyone’s step and increases the number of smiles per capita, but that’s exactly where we’re at here in Oakland. And reflecting the good weather and good moods, the P and I have been spinning all kinds of jazz this week. Here is but a sampling of some of the delicious albums that have been passing across our turntable…

Blue Mitchell - album
Blue Mitchell * The Thing To Do – This 1964 album is one of a long string of pearls that this overlooked trumpeter recorded for Blue Note. Formed from the remnants of Horace Silver’s early 60′s quintet, this group featured a young Chick Corea on piano.

Jimmy Forrest - album
Jimmy Forrest * Out Of The Forrest – A soulful tenor saxophonist, Jimmy Forrest swings lightly on this 1961 session. Occasionally funky but never showy, Forrest and his group play what the liner notes call “roadhouse music… with no frills or embellishments.” In other words, this is straight ahead jazz that you don’t need a PhD to enjoy.

Coltrane - album
John Coltrane * Lush Life – Miles from the chaotic ‘sheets of sound’ that characterize so much of Coltrane’s work, this is a relaxed set of gorgeous covers that are rough enough around the edges to make them interesting, and feature a simmering intensity that could belong to nobody but Coltrane.

Monk - album
Thelonious Monk * Thelonious In Action - Recorded in August 1958 at the Five Spot Cafe in New York City, this is an excellent live document of the genius of Monk. The way he slides around the beat on ‘Blue Monk’ is really something to behold.

Ellington - album
Duke Ellington * The Blanton-Webster Band – This three album box set collects all of the recordings of the famous Ellington orchestra that featured tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton. Featuring many of the songs that made The Duke famous, this set is an indispensable part of any jazz collection.

Philly Joe - album
Philly Joe Jones * Showcase – Jones played with a who’s who of jazz superstars during his illustrious career. Here he fronts a group featuring Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, and Sonny Clark on piano. In spite of its title, this is a fine ensemble recording, and the rare album headlined by a drummer that isn’t overrun with drum solos.

Oscar Peterson/Stan Getz - album
Stan Getz & The Oscar Peterson Trio – Two great tastes that taste great together, Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson trio complement each other perfectly on this swinging set of standards that were recorded in 1957.

Dave Brubeck - album
Dave Brubeck * Time Out – One of the best selling jazz records of all-time, this album is proof that popular tastes aren’t always wrong. Named for the odd time signatures that feature in many of the tunes, it boasts perennial favorites ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’ and ‘Take Five’.

[Of course, now that I've been talking up the weather, it just started raining...]

Hitting The Links V

7 August 2007

The P and I are jumping on an aero-plane tomorrow and heading off to the wonderfully tiny state of Rhode Island to hang with her folks, celebrate her father’s birthday, and attend the Newport Jazz Festival. In honor of the latter two, this blog is taking on a decidedly jazzy feel for the rest of the week:

A list of the best recordings made at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Vintage NYT article on the Newport Jazz Festival’s return to Newport in 1981.

Take a tour of the trumpet factory.

Cool interactive version of Art Kane’s famous 1958 Jazz photo.

Love that Blue Note design.

Some more great Jazz LP covers.

The Jazz Files are worth a browse.

Check this 1964 Time magazine article on Monk.

A few tips on building an inexpensive Jazz collection.

Stanley Crouch reflects on Miles Davis.

Some background on Fats Navarro.

A very interesting point of view on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.

A brief history of Verve Records.

One ode to In A Silent Way.

NPR runs down Kind Of Blue.

Here’s how a saxophone works.

Not your average Jazz blog.

Check out these 100 historically significant Jazz albums.


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