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Thelonious Monk
Crepuscule With Nellie


thelonious monk - criss cross (sleeve art)

Thelonious Monk - Crepescule with Nellie (1963)

From Thelonious Monk - The Life and Times of an American Original:

Monk had started composing a piece for Nellie just when she fell ill. He worked on it throughout the month of May [1957] between home and the Algonquin, and Nica [the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter] captured a “draft” of it on tape during one of Coltrane’s visits. Monk wanted to call it “Twilight with Nellie,” but the Baroness promptly suggested he use the French word for twilight: crepuscule. It became his obsession. He conceived of it as a through-composed piece—there would be no improvisation, no variation, just a concise arrangement. “Crepuscule with Nellie” was to be his concerto and he wanted it to be perfect. Driven to mania, he stayed up many nights wrestling with the song’s middle or bridge. He was desperate to finish the song because he feared he might lose his precious wife.

At the end, listen for producer Teo Macero’s “Yeah! That’s wild!”

Filed under Monk jazz

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Monk Microscopic

Full disclosure: one of the members of the Microscopic Septet, reed player Don Davis, lives on my road.  I met him for the first, and to date, only, time more than a year ago at a party, when he told me about a recording the group had made of Thelonious Monk’s music.  I finally dug it up on MOG: Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk.  I found it in fact a pretty successful collection of Monk compositions, seen through the group’s fisheye lens.  Both Monk’s music and the Septet’s sound get appropriate respect. 

No doubt, there are some striking similarities between this group’s essential sonority (front line of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones) and that of the septet Monk assembled in 1957, including Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins, to record the music that appeared on Monk’s Music and on Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. (Soprano saxophone replaces Ray Copeland’s trumpet.And if that opening solo on “Off Minor” doesn’t summon the ghost of Hawk, I’ll eat my porkpie hat.    

Hardly a day passes that wouldn’t be bettered by listening to Monk’s music.  Me, I could listen to Monk’s “Evidence” every day.  Here’s one good way to help yourself to another better day.

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