Thelonious Monk - Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia

Thelonious Monk
Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia


First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2003, Volume 10, #11

Written by John Metzger


Fans of Thelonious Monk certainly have reason to celebrate. The estate of the late pianist recently inked a deal with Hyena Records, launching a series of previously unreleased material that begins with Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia. Recorded in March 1965, the seven-song set is nothing short of astounding. Though Monk delivers two brief solo pieces ó resplendent renditions of Body and Soul and April in Paris ó itís the ensemble outings that make this collection worth seeking. The reason is simple: It perfectly showcases the groupís near telepathic ability ó particularly on the exquisite final trilogy of Well You Neednít, Bright Mississippi, and Epistrophy ó as the rattle of a snare drum and the thump of a bass precisely accent and intermingle with Monkís playful flights and sophisticated chords, not to mention with saxophonist Charlie Rouseís stylishly freewheeling solos. The result is an organic exchange of concepts and ideas that encompasses the very definition of jazz and improvisational music. Also included is a three-song DVD, which captures the same band performing in Oslo, Norway 13 months later. While itís not as musically solid as the Paris material, it still manages to highlight the genius of Monk, while giving one a taste of his enormous stage presence. Indeed, one can see his mind at work, even as he stands by the side of his piano, listening to his musical partners play. Without a doubt, Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia is not to be missed. starstarstarstar

Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia 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!!


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