July 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Thelonious MONK
Straight No Chaser  
  OST
  Columbia/Legacy 507925 2  

Crotchet

Thelonius Monk

  1. Straight, No Chaser
  2. Pannonica
  3. Trinkle Tinkle
  4. Ugly Beauty (rehearsal)
  5. Ugly Beauty
  6. Epistrophy
  7. Evidence
  8. I Mean You (Stickball)
  9. Lulu's Back in Town
  10. Don't Blame me
  11. Sweetheart of All My Dreams
  12. 'Round Midnight
  13. Straight No Chaser (Bonus Track)

Thelonious Monk Piano (All tracks)

Charlie Rouse Tenor 1,4,5,6,7,8,12 & 13

Larry Gales Bass 1,4,5,6,7,8,12 & 13

Ben Riley Drums 1.4,5,6,7,8,12 &13

Ray Copeland- Trumpet

Jimmy Cleveland Trombone All of these four play on 6,7 &8

Phil Woods Alto

Johnny Griffin Tenor

Thelonius Monk or 'Monk' as he was known to everyone, is one of the legendary figures of jazz who along with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, was part of the be-bop revolution. This was in the 1940's whilst Monk was the house pianist at Minton's Playhouse a jazz club in New York. Monk had an angular and instantly recognisable playing style, which seriously challenged the norms of the day. He was a great composer of tunes suitable for jazz improvisation and many of them are often heard today, not only played in jazz clubs, but as background music for films and in many other situations.

For me and I suspect for many others, Monk's music needs to be carefully listened to understand it, but it is a rewarding experience. The outer cover of the booklet says this is the original movie soundtrack, but the notes say that every source was explored to put this album together, I have not seen the film but I intend to seek it out. What is presented here is a representative selection of Monk's music; the Quartet with Charlie Rouse on tenor was the one with which he worked most. Charlie Rouse is a great improviser and he always seemed to work particularly well with Monk whose accompaniments at times seem a bit strange. The Octet with it's All-Star line up was comparatively short lived and these are the best recordings of it I have heard. The latter tracks 9,10 & 11 give a feel for Monk's playing as a solo pianist, I have a feeling that he didn't care for Sweetheart of all my Dreams very much!

The last track on the original LP was 'Round Midnight but this CD version has a bonus track of Monk's Quartet playing Straight, No Chaser in 1967.

To understand what jazz is about, it is necessary to take in what Monk was doing; this album helps that understanding.

Don Mather

***

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