Monday, March 29, 2010

Thelonious Monk Live In Stockholm 1961

Thelonious Monk
Live In Stockholm 1961 (Dragon Records)
Thelonious Monk (piano)
Charlie Rouse (sax)
John Ore (bass)
Frank Dunlop (drums)

The Thelonious Monk Quartet were in midst of a European tour at the time Live In Stockholm (Dragon Records) was recorded. It is probably one of the favourite Monk concerts I own. The sound quality is excellent (originally from a Swedish radio broadcast). There's nothing new in repertoire for this tour. It takes place just a few months before Monk would sign for Columbia Records and he was really starting to become a household name among jazz lovers. He's band (Rouse, Ore and Dunlop) had been together for two years now were to prime form. The gig kicks off with a great version of the Monk standard "Jackie-ing" with some killing interplay between Rouse and Monk. At this point the two men probably had the same brain they were so in sync. Charlie Rouse really is on fire during this performance especially later on during the set on "Well You Needn't" and "Beshima Swing". Rouse also has an incredible solo on "Round Midnight" that is best heard loud. This quartet was Monk most powerful and prolific.

Monk kept this group together along with selected touring/session members for almost four years before Ben Riely took over on drums from Frank Dunlop. The evening ends with a lovely version of "Body And Soul" as only Monk could do it. While there isn't anything historic about this date it is well worth seeking out for the sound quality and pretty decent packaging. Live In Stockholm is a brilliant snapshot of Monk and his quartet in fabulous form.

Unfortunately I haven't found any footage of this performance or of this quartet together at this time period. The performance below is from the quartet Monk put together shortly after Dunlop and includes Charlie Rouse (sax), Ben Riely (drums) and Larry Gayles (bass). Still a stellar quartet and marvelous work from Monk.

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