THELONIOUS MONK: MONK IN ITALY
Thelonious Monk (p) Charlie Rouse (ts) John Ore (b) Frankie Dunlop (drs)
Body and Soul
Straight, No Chaser
San Francisco Holiday
Crepuscule with Nellie
The last four years have been Monk’s biggest. The cover of Time, and article in The Saturday Evening Post and concerts which have taken him tens of thousands of miles. This 7 weeks European concert tour was the first of the big events in his career besides his birth in rocky Mount, North Carolina. Every article I have ever read about him belates the fact that it took 15 or more years of obscurity until he caught on. It was unfortunate for Monk, but led us be thankful that his popularity comes now. For if we ever needed the honest brilliance of his music it is now. We are perhaps in the dreariest musical time that has ever hit this country. Amplified phonies, folksy freaks with a good sprinkling of anarchic and chaotic avant gardists round out the scene. Monk’s music is so simple to comprehend with its lilting melodies, humorous asides and delightful dissonances that he has drawn a great audience into his personal involvement. His music is so deceptively simple that in twenty years there are no imitators. There are a great deal of musicians who are playing Monk’s compositions. Musicologists find his work worthy of prolonged and detailed analysis, but there is no school of Monk.
The Italians were very enthusiastic. The tickets for his concerts were expensive for the average citizen of Rome, Milan and Bologna (the cities he played) but they came. Thelonious was equally enthusiastic about Italian food and in the week he spent in Italy he was gaining weight alarmingly. The Bud Powell trio played on the same concerts. Forgive the analogy but it is like going to a recital and getting Rubinstein and Horowitz on the same bill. It was a happy reunion for the two men. They had not seen each other in a long time. The old saw came true. All roads lead to Rome. For these two men it was a long road but they made it on their own.
Bob Reisner, author of The Jazz Titans, Bird, the legend of Charlie Parker
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