Living in an age where multimedia projects rule the attentnion of the masses, the dawning of an era when every song will have an accompanying video within the same disc is conceivable in the near future. With this concept in mind it is surprising to find a similar concept presented featuring one of the fathers of modern jazz, Thelonious Monk. Granted, the project is still presented on two separate discs (music and DVD), but the idea is the same: A great multimedia experience at the same price of a single music disc!
Monk ‘Round the World contains seven tracks from five different concerts from a time period beginning in 1961 and spanning through 1964. Although the bass and drum spot is changed from concert to concert, Monk’s longtime associate Charlie Rouse remains constant on both the CD and DVD. The free DVD was captured on Mach 14, 1965 at The Marquee Club in London and features footage of three selections; "Rhythm- A- Ning," "Nutty," and "Criss Cross."
Monk ‘Round the World opens with the swinging classic "Epistrophy." The song is a true jazz dance, with Rouse digging in deep and using thematic development of fragments from the melody to deliver a soulful musical solo. One of Monk’s most celebrated compositions, "Blue Monk," follows with a swinging sense of joy and comedy. The interaction of the band is stellar; Rouse is in his usual fine musical form with Monk’s well placed commentary and use of seconds in the piano voicings fuelling the solo. Monk’s solo is a study in, first and for most, swing, with the addition of counterpoint, motif development and a quote from "C Jam Blues." This is the stuff of which legends are made.
"Ruby, My Dear," slows the pace, shifting the mood to highlight the beautiful ballad. Rouse's use of sixteenth notes keep the energy of the piece moving without losing the dark beautiful overtones. Monk’s solo shines as he plays commentary with the melody, always developing the story with his classic sense of lines and harmony. An up-tempo "Rhythm-A-Ning" follows, with joy abounding the band really digs down deep, featuring some inspired playing by both Monk and Rouse. Rouse really pulls from his bebop bag on this cut.
This collaboration gives a glimpse into the future of multimedia between Thelonious Records and HYENA, which marks the first time that the Thelonioius Monk estate has opened the vaults to national distribution. This disc is part of a series of releases focusing on both legitimizing bootleg recordings and unreleased performances.
This is great music from one of the most famous and popular jazz artists to date. The CD is a must have and if that is not enough, lets not forget the bonus DVD!