Monk 'Round the World
The Music Box's #9 specialty package for 2004
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
Monk ’Round the World — the latest offering from the archives of pianist Thelonious Monk — is a composite of seven tracks recorded on five separate nights over a nearly three-year span, and yet, improbable as it may seem, the set sounds like a cohesive whole. The common denominator, of course, was saxophonist Charlie Rouse, whose own distinctive style so perfectly complemented that of the legendary bandleader that it ultimately didn’t matter who was playing rhythm — John Ore, Butch Warren, and Larry Gales contributed bass, while Frankie Dunlop and Ben Riley provided percussion — because the manner in which the pair magisterially pushed the boundaries and probed the elastic borders of their repertoire was accomplished with an air of haphazard glee. Tunes like Epistrophy, Blue Monk, and Rhythm A Ning comfortably settled into swinging rhythmic grooves, but whenever Monk joined the fray, his angular approach frequently sent the songs careening through a series of unexpected twists and turns that at first appeared jarring, yet ultimately, through their circumnavigation, became the shading that brought the melody into full view. In essence, Rouse was able to take Monk’s jagged thoughts and blend them into something smoother, and together, the duo was utterly invincible. Much like last year’s Monk in Paris, the collection also contains a bonus DVD, and this installment features some nifty footage of the ensemble performing a trio of tunes in London in 1965.
Monk 'Round the World is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box