TAS Rated 4.5/5 Music, 4/5 Sonics in the September 2023 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
At the time of this recording, Thelonious Monk was at both a creative and critical peak. He had recently signed with Columbia Records, notably one of the biggest jazz labels in the world at the time, and the following year became the third jazz musician in history to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.
The Classic Quartet is comprised of Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Butch Warren on bass, and Frankie Dunlop on drums. The recording captures what is undoubtedly one of the very best sets of the era. The songs, classic Monk repertoire, will be familiar to any Monk fan. That includes what is by all accounts an exceptional version of one of Monk's favorite standards, "Just a Gigolo."
This recording is the audio portion of a television show recorded in Tokyo during Monk's 1963 tour of Japan. Not to be confused with the live album of that same 1963 tour, Monk in Tokyo, released on Columbia Records. It also should be noted that the recordings here were previously released as Thelonious Monk 1963 Japan, at various times, by various labels.
This version has been remastered by award winning engineer Bernie Grundman. It is the first time this album has been released on vinyl in over 35 years.
Monk's quirky / dissonant 'Epistrophy,' a tune he had featured on gigs since 1941, is given a lively treatment here, with the pianist and drummer engaging in animated call-and-response throughout. 'Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are' is a buoyant, Monkian take on a 12-bar blues that serves as a nice launching pad for Rouse's robust solo. 'Evidence,' Monk's masterful contrafact on the 1929 Tin Pan Alley song 'Just You, Just Me,' is another showcase for Rouse's tenor brilliance while an unhurried solo piano take on 'Just a Gigolo' finds the leader utilizing space and dissonance with dramatic results while also hinting at old school stride playing. And there's a wonderful looseness to the lazy, loping closer, an 11-minute version of 'Blue Monk' that showcases Rouse's mellow soloing alongside Monk's signature eccentric accompaniment and also allows listeners to key in on Dunlop's creative contributions while keeping time.
- 180g Vinyl
- Remastered by Bernie Grundman
- Made in USA
|Charlie Rouse||tenor saxophone|
- Ba-Lou Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
- Just a Gigolo
- Blue Monk