Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk

Monk Round The World

Hyena/Thelonious

Monk is Monk is Monk is Monk, and by this time if you’re reading this, you must know if you like Monk or not.

Me, I like Monk, he’s got a decent-sized piece of land staked out inside my mind. A Monk piece never seems to relax, to settle into the warm ripples that almost everybody else played at some time or another. Jagged glaciers of beauty, that’s what I used to call it. It’s music of the mind, as close as we are ever likely to get to being able to chart another person’s thinking process. I’ve said that before, though.

Okay, before we go any further, I gotta start by saying I’ve been sleeping on getting this album reviewed. Partly because of personal problems of no interest to you I’m quite sure, but mostly because I hadn’t found a way to say more than: This record, like Monk in Paris: Live At The Olympia, is a collection of dates from the early ’60s featuring Monk in front of various fine bands; but it is better than its predecessor.

Monk was a man and I am a fan with nothing to say, wasting the day. Except other fans should embrace this Hyena even closer than they did the last one. My favorite Monk concert recording — and I am in no way claiming to have heard them all — remains one recorded about five years after these and released by Le Jazz as The Paris Concert. But this is in second place.

Why is this album more satisfying than the last (and why is this night different from all other nights)? Damned if I know.

I can tell you that the bands just sound crisper, especially the drummers. And the bass player. Can’t forget the sax. And Monk himself takes a number of particularly good solos…man; I don’t want to write about this album, I want to go for a swim in it. Maybe the jagged glaciers have melted into warm ripples after all.

Maybe the interpretations had changed. Maybe I have. But that’s not it either. No solo pieces this time, though, which I tend to like better, but for once on a Monk full-band album I didn’t miss them.

Liner notes are in the way of Joel Dorn’s usual charming meanderings and an essay by some tall guy named Kareem. I think he’s the co-pilot for a major airline or something.

Hyena: www.hyenarecords.com

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