JJ 01/61: Thelonious Monk – At Town Hall

Sixty years ago, Kennedy Brown recuperated with Monk after a bout with Ornette Coleman. First published in Jazz Journal January 1961


After listening to the Ornette Cole­man disc reviewed above this sounds like a slice of traditionalism! But Monk can get far out, too, and after adjusting my ears I should attach the warning: For Modernists Only.

This is the most satisfying Monk record (recorded “live” at a New York concert) I’ve heard. It is also the most exciting.

I don’t know quite what’s come over me but Monk’s wandering piano im­provisations now seem to make more sense and give me greater enjoyment. Or has the pianist finally “found” him­self?

But there’s more to this disc than Monk. All the soloists are first class, particularly Charlie Rouse, Pepper Adams and Donald Byrd. In fact, these performances confirm my belief that Byrd is one of the top half-dozen jazz trumpeters.

The arrangements (by Monk and Hall Overton) are outstanding and the num­bers stick in your mind long after the disc has stopped spinning.

This is Monk stretching himself out in an unusual setting – and it will re­pay careful listening. It will be included in my “Discs of the Year” list next time round.

Thelonious; Friday The 13th; Monk’s Mood (22 min.) – Little Rootie Tootle; Off Minor; Crepescule With Nellie (21 min.)
Monk (ldr, p); Donald Byrd (tpt); Eddie Bert (tbn); Phil Woods (alt); Charlie Rouse (ten); Pepper Adams (bar); Robert Northern (Fr. h); Jay McAllister (tuba); Sam Jones (bs); Art Taylor (d). New York, 28th Feb., 1959.
(Riverside RLP 12-300. l2inLP. 39s. 9d.)