Thelonious Monk - Mønk - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Thelonious Monk - Mønk

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-09-28
Thelonious Monk - Mønk
Thelonious Monk - Mønk

Sometimes you have no idea where the undiscovered and previously unreleased music will come from. The tapes that were turned into Mønk, the previously unreleased live recordings of Thelonious Monk’s quartet from 1963 have been initially recovered from a dumpster!

So let us skip the fact that even a shitty music tape should have such a fate, let alone something recorded by one of the greatest names in jazz… Sorry, forget that. Thelonious Monk is not one of the greatest names in jazz. He is one of the greatest names in music. Any kind of music. Period. I’ve no idea if Sphere is Monk’s middle name or it became his nickname, but it fits him and his music perfectly - angular touches, notes that seem like they will fall apart and bring down both the rhythm and the melody any second, but keep on fitting in perfectly, making the music move around like the constantly different shapes that you get when you keep turning around that old-fashioned and almost forgotten toy, the kaleidoscope. By re-inventing old jazz and blues form, Thelonious Monk created his own musical sphere.

To that effect, for anybody who is yet to get involved with jazz or Monk’s music (fans and those in the know have already got this one as a pre-order), this outing of his best known quartet lineup (Charlie Rouse - saxophone, John Ore - bass, and Frankie Dunlop - drums) originally recorded by the Danish Radio at Odd Fellow concert hall in Copenhagen could possibly be one of the best entry points. Monk and the band go through a set of five classics that Monk kept turning that kaleidoscope on throughout his career. They give it more of a ‘standard’ approach, still, all those Monk’s touches are present and you have a feeling that both Monk and the band might have had their eyes closed throughout the concert. Not a note is missed, and if it was, you wouldn’t notice. It all fits exactly what it should sound like.

A word about the recording. Sometimes, even with the pristine original tapes from the late sixties backward, reissue labels can make a mess, or simply not care, hoping the fans or those curious will snap it up no matter what. But getting the tapes from a dumpster and then restoring them to this level of quality requires not only painstaking work but a lot of care and love. Obviously, people at Gearbox Records have it in bundles.

In the end, there’s one word to describe this record, whether you’re a jazz fan or yet to become one - essential.


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