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Sunday, July 02, 2017

CD Review: Thelonious Monk Quintet - Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960.

Thelonious Monk (piano); Charlie Rouse, Barney Wilen (tenors); Sam Jones (bass); Art Taylor (drums).
(Review by Lance).
A previously unreleased double album by Monk is quite an event. Not that some of the music hasn't had previous exposure - 30 minutes of it provided the soundtrack for Roger Vadim's 1960 movie Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960. The remaining 45 minutes comprise alternate takes and extended versions of the ones used in the film. Familiar Monk tunes but, no less interesting because of that.
The two tenor front-line numbers gave them a different dimension. Rouse's easily identifiable, angular lines contrasting with Wilen's more rounded but less virile sound. Rouse, who knew Monk's music better than anyone bar the great man himself, was always at home with the often unexpected twists and turns conjured up by the composer. Frenchman Wilen, 22 at the time, also coped well on the 4 tracks he appears on whilst Jones, later to become a linchpin of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet and Taylor, one of the most prolific drummers of the period, rounded it off perfectly - that is, if any Monk session could be described as being rounded off!
Rhythm-a-Ning (2 takes); Crepuscule with Nellie (2); Six in One; Well You Needn't (2); Pannonica ( 2 solo piano/1 quartet/1 quintet); Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are; We'll Understand it Better By and By; Light Blue (2 inc. a segment of rehearsing the rhythm Monk wanted).
Monk didn't write anything specifically for the film. Instead, he played the above pieces which invariably ran over the timing allotted to coordinate with the on-screen events and it was left to the producers to edit the music to fit. We get both versions here.
It's absolutely essential for any Monk fans and well worth a listen for any modern jazz fans of the era.
As a bonus, let me say that the 56-page booklet accompanying the discs is probably the most informative booklet I've seen in recent years - and it's readable!
Articles by Alain Tercinet, Robin D.G. Kelley and Brian Priestley coupled with many photos - both black and white and colour -, scribbled notes from the Nola Penthouse Sound Studios in New York (111 W. 57th St.) where the music was recorded on July 27, 1959, combine to make this a very memorable and collectable album which is also available on a 2 LP vinyl package.
All I need to do now is watch the film...Highly recommended.
Lance.

1 comment :

Russell said...

Anthony Troon's five star review of Monk's album in the July issue of Jazz Journal concurs with your review. Troon concludes 'unmissable'.

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