The musician is considered one of the revolutionaries and geniuses of post-World War II jazz music.
By Ricardo Alonso Venereo
July 29, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Palo Alto, an unreleased album by American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (Rock Mounty, 1920 – Weehawken, 1982) will be presented next July 31, on digital platforms, 52 years after his songs were actually recorded in a concert that the artist gave in 1968 in a high school in the city of Palo Alto, California, which at the time, helped “temporarily unite a city divided by racism.”
Coincidentally, the release of the album, which under the label ¡Impulse! Universal Music, will also be released on CD and vinyl. (The latter in a special edition that will include a replica of the original poster and handheld program.). It had been scheduled to be released before the current epidemiological situation in the world. It serves to show us today how identical some things are to 1968, the year of the assassination of Black leader Martin Luther King and when racial conflicts between whites and Blacks stirred up American society at the time.
“With Palo Alto, Monk’s music once again becomes balm for a wounded society that resists understanding that we all vibrate to the same beat and rhythm,” says the important Californian cultural promoter Danny Scher, This album is largely due to the current atmosphere in that country as a result of the death of the African-American George Floyd.
“The performance is one of the best recordings I’ve ever heard of Thelonious,” said T.S. Monk, son of the star, after listening to the recording that,15 years ago ,Danny Scher found, and which he put in his hands through saxophonist Jimmy Heath. He was one of the greats of the be-bop era, after he finished producing an unreleased album by Monk and Coltrane at Carnegie Hall in 2005.
Although it is acknowledged that Monk’s best performances have always been live, it is also stated that there are numerous documented concerts and tours of the pianist, which are of great value and this recording is an example of this. Here the band really sounds very relaxed and inspired, but also because this era of Monk in concert is not particularly documented, which makes this album the last official live performance of Monk’s classic quartet with Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales and Ben Riley.
It is claimed that when this concert took place the group had just recorded the legendary album Underground and the band’s days were about to come to an end, but in 1968 they were still sounding full of life, starting with Charlie Rouse, who plays superb solos in this concert. Gales and Riley also shine with their own light. And, of course, Monk, who among other pearls leaves here a version of Don’t Blame Me, truly anthological.
Other themes collected in Palo Alto are Don’t Blame Me and Ruby My Dear; the dynamic and lively Well You Needn’t, at 13 minutes and with solos by all the components or the abrupt end with Rudy Vallée’s classic: I Love You (Sweetheart of All My Dreams).
The magnificent human story behind this album, only 47 minutes long, is profusely detailed in the excellent notes signed by Monk’s biographer, Robin G. Kelley.
Thelonious Monk is considered one of the revolutionaries and geniuses of post-World War II jazz music.