Monday, July 26, 2010

Wynton Marsalis channels Louis Armstrong channeling Thelonious Monk

Can Ouija Boards be networked?  Wynton Marsalis thinks so.  I have been listening to the fourth volume of his Standard Time Series: Marsalis Plays MonkThe Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (may it be praised!) informs me that Marsalis intended to "recast Monk's music in the form of the ensemble jazz of Louis Armstrong's jazz orchestra of 1927 and 1928."  Okay.  What

I'm not sure what all that means, but this album is one more tent revival meeting for the cult of Monk.  As a true believer, I can only say amen.  Has any jazz composer been so frequently covered or so deeply worshiped as Thelonious Monk?  Monk's compositions haunt modern jazz.  You might enjoy a good evening by listening to this album along with Anthony Braxton's Monk album and Monk's own Brilliant Corners.  Hey, I think I'll do that.  Marsalis Plays Monk is a brilliant work, and brilliantly recorded.  You can hear the buzz of the bass.

Here is an excerpt from one of the numbers.  It is features the piano player Eric Reed.  This guy straightens out Monk, in accord with the general theme, but that only highlights the genius of the composition.  I love this piece of music. 
Wynton Marsalis/Brilliant Corners/Marsalis Plays Monk/excerpt
Also don't miss the last piece on the album: 'Green Chimneys'.  I didn't recognize that Monk number.  I won't forget it. 


  1. This album was one of the first CD's I ever got. It's great! According to my computer, the last time I listened to some of the tracks was over five years ago (though I've listened to the physical CD in my car since then). That was before I even had my own a computer...yikes... I'm going to remedy that right now...

    So speaking of Monk, do you know of any good biographies on him? I've read Miles' and Duke's autobiographies, as well as biographies of Mingus and Trane, but haven't seen anything on Monk (though I haven't looked much either).

  2. Very Interesting! You have good taste,as usual!

  3. there's a beautiful film on Monk, "Straight, No Chaser". check it out!

  4. John: it is a splendid recording. As for a good biography of Monk, I have head wonderful things about Robin Kelley's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original. I haven't read it yet, but pianist Ran Blake recommended it to me in a note. If you don't know Blake's tribute to Barbara Monk, I have reviewed it on this blog. It is superb.

    Ravel and Amused: thanks. I keep meaning to get to that film.