It’s never a bad time to talk about Thelonious Monk. His indomitable music and incorruptible example serve as a renewable resource, because there’s always something fresh to uncover, another brilliant corner to explore.
The two of us, lifelong Monk obsessives, had been looking forward to the release of a material discovery: Palo Alto, an exceptional live album recorded by the Thelonious Monk Quartet in 1968. By the time of this concert, bassist Larry Gales, drummer Ben Riley and tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse had become Monk’s longest tenured band, for good reason. Their navigation of his music is as instructive as it is exceptional.
So it was a bitter pill when Impulse! announced the indefinite postponement of Palo Alto. But we decided to keep Monk in focus regardless. On this episode of Jazz United, we’ll talk about the fascinating story behind this elusive album, and why it’s more than a minor inconvenience to have it shelved again.
You’ll also hear us discuss Monk’s genius from a few different angles, and reflect on the countless tributes we’ve heard — from piano acolytes like Geri Allen, Frank Kimbrough and Jason Moran, and from others including Paul Motian, Peter Bernstein and Miles Okazaki. The latest offering comes from tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, who enlisted two strikingly different pianists on his new album, Harlem Stories: The Music of Thelonious Monk.
Music Featured in This Episode:
- Thelonious Monk, “Monk’s Dream” (1964)
- Thelonious Monk, “Blue Monk” (1969)
- Paul Motian, “San Francisco Holiday (Worry Later)” (1998)
- Frank Kimbrough, “Brake’s Sake” (2019)
- Teodross Avery, “Teo” (2020)
- Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, Robin Kelley
- Thelonious Monk's Missing 'Palo Alto' Concert, Nate Chinen, NPR
- When Jazz Royalty Came to Paly, Yoshi Kato, Palo Alto Weekly
Jazz United is produced by Sarah Kerson. Our senior producer is Simon Rentner.