It seems that there are few frontiers left in the increasingly frenetic search for new market niches in the music business
By BARRY DAVISThelonious Monk Quartet
with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
It seems that there are few frontiers left in the increasingly frenetic search for new market niches in the music business. Sales executives are looking more and more at releasing money-spinning nuggets from the past, and the jazz sector has long been prone to this retro craze. Record companies have been churning out rereleases by the cartload for some years now. Then again, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall is not a rerelease. Amazingly, the live recording the legendary pianist and saxophonist made at the venerable New York auditorium in 1957 had never seen the light of day and, in fact, until recently, was not even known to have happened. Thankfully, the original acetate tapes were discovered around a year ago languishing in the Library of Congress vaults in Washington DC.
While some old recordings have more historic than artistic value, that is definitely not the case with this album. The concert, in which Monk and Coltrane were backed by Ahmed Abdul-Malik on acoustic bass and Shadow Wilson on drums, finds Monk at the height of his powers and Coltrane finally shaking off the shackles of his earlier bebop influences.
This recording was made at a time when Monk and Coltrane were enjoying a fruitful collaboration at New York's Five Spot jazz club. It was Monk who helped Coltrane find his own unique voice and it is clear from this album that the two enjoyed a close and almost telepathic artistic relationship. Purists may argue that Coltrane produced far more noteworthy performances in the early to mid-Sixties, but this pairing with Monk is one of the most brilliant confluences in the entire history of the genre.
Clarke Terry-Bob Brookmeyer Quintet
Complete Studio Recordings
Lonehill Jazz/Jazz Ear
The first half of the Sixties was a time of turmoil for the jazz world. With the advent of Elvis, the world's attention shifted towards rock and roll. Jazz musicians like Miles Davis responded by incorporating rock sentiments into their craft. Some like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler took flight to the far-flung reaches of free jazz, while others just stuck to their guns. Trumpeter Clark Terry and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer belonged to the latter category and between 1964-66 put out a generous amount of impressive recordings.
This 2-CD set was made after Terry and Brookmeyer had been together for four years and their expansive comfort zone is evident throughout. As individual players, dovetailing partners, and joint combo leaders, there is an air of laissez-faire about their work. The 28-track album also traverses a wide range of styles and genres, not so much in defiance of the demarcation lines, but more with complete disregard for them. "Blindman, Blindman", written by Herbie Hancock, who was then a fast-rising star in the jazz firmament, displays more than a modicum of humor together with insouciant bluesy riffs and rippling solos.
Complete Studio Recordings will take you through the blues, bebop, big band sounds and New Orleans marching band beats. There's not a dull moment to be found.
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