This never-before-released collection of music makes up 2 discs worth of some of the most fascinating sounds by Thelonious Monk you’ll ever come across. It was initially recorded in 1959 as part of the soundtrack for Roger Vadim’s iconic movie. Who knows why it wasn’t included; there is a long essay in the booklet, but nothing justifies keeping this material under wraps; it’s WONDERFUL, and captures a side of Monk rarely appreciated.
At this point in his career, Thelonious Monk had a hip working team of Charlie Rouse/ts, Sam Jones/b and Art Taylor/dr. For this session, local tenor saxist Barney Wilen sits in on a couple of songs, so you get a two tenor team, Monk’s regular quartet and some rich and intimate solo renditions. There are multiple takes and “45 rpm” versions of some of the material as well, but you’ll never be bored. Even the “Blue Light (Making Of)”, which is 14+ minutes of a song gradually coming to fruition, is worth a listen.
But, the real Juicy Lucy’s here are the twin Selmers bopping with delight on “Rhythm-a-Ning” an d”Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are” which have contrasting horns in smoky moods and the rhythm team light and bouyant. Monk himself is alarmingly blissful and dainty; rarely heavy handed, he sparkles on a delightfully bluesy quartet take of “Well, You Needn’t” and is dreamy with Rouse on “Crepuscule with Nellie.” There are a pair of solo reads of “Pannonica” as well as a quartet take; all are almost insouciant, while Taylor and Monk go for the proverbial it in a jungle drumming “Light Blue.’ Monk even gets into his gospel roots on a fervent “By and Bye.” Where has this been hiding? All music fans have an essential colledion here, and don’t let it slip through your fingers; it’s a keeper!
Nola Penthouse Sound Records