Jazz Icons: Thelonious Monk features two intimate concerts fi lmed three days apart in Scandanavia in the Spring of 1966 with a legendary quartet that includes drummer Ben Riley, bassist Larry Gales and tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. Thelonious Monk revolutionized jazz with his innovative musical approach and these remarkable performances allow viewers the rare opportunity to experience MonkÂ’s genius up close on his classic compositions, Â”Blue Monk,Â” Â”EpistrophyÂ” and Â”Â’Round Midnight.Â” This DVD, which contains Thelonious Monk’s two studio television performances taped in Oslo and Copenhagen in 1966, proves that seeing Monk is as important as hearing him. He’s backed by his legendary quartet – tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, and drummer Ben Riley, who was forced to play with a spare borrowed drumkit. Save for the two renditions of the standard “Lulu’s Back in Town” and another popular song, “Don’t Blame Me,” the rest of the six selections are pure Monk, including the spellbinding “Blue Monk,” the algorithmic “Epistrophy,” and of course, his eternal ballad “‘Round Midnight,” delivered here at a slightly faster tempo. Thelonious’s flat-fingered touch, trancelike dancing (which Riley playfully mimics), fancy footwork at the keyboard, and wild choice of hats steal the show. In the 20-page liner notes,trumpeter, arranger, and Monk scholar Don Sickler encourages you to, “[t]ake this fantastic opportunity to get a better understanding of his distinct style, of the unique way he accompanies soloists, and the other idiosyncrasies that make Monk a musical treasure.” –Eugene Holley, Jr.
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