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Old May 4, 2012, 10:40 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Jazz Feature for May 7:"In Orbit" Clark Terry with Thelonious Monk.

Tonight's Feature is a bit of a rara avis as one can count on the fingers of one hand the times that Thelonious Monk was used as a sideman on recording dates. I will exclude the famous "Bags' Groove" 1954 date as that really was an all-star session and Monk was included at the insistence of Bob Weinstock, head of Prestige Records and not Miles Davis or anyone else on that date. Monk, as we all know was unique and had a style all his own and was so identifiable not only in his soloing but in his accompaniment to horn players. Opinion was divided on Monk's abilities for years and many musicians felt that he shouldn't even be considered a piano player! It took the world a long time to finally recognize Thelonious as a serious musician and a Jazz pioneer. There were many people who did acknowledge Monk right at the beginning of his career as being a musical giant. Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Art Blakey are only a few who thought of Monk as their peer. Monk began recording under his own name in 1947 but because of his uniqueness his phone wasn't ringing for sideman gigs.

Coleman Hawkins in 1944 gave Monk his first commercial sideman date on four tunes for a small New York label. It wasn't until 1950 when Bird called on Monk to be on a date with him and Dizzy done for Norman Granz' Clef label. Sonny Rollins was Monk's favorite tenor player in the 1950's and Monk used Sonny on one of his Prestige dates then Sonny in late 1954 had a quartet date of his own set up (this was his last before leaving New York to move to Chicago to practise and beat his drug habit...he didn't return to the scene until late 1955 as a member of the Max Roach-Clifford Brown band) with pianist Elmo Hope, bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Arthur Taylor. A few days before the date Sonny got a call from Elmo's Mom who informed Rollins that Elmo got busted and was sent to Rikers Island on a drug charge. Rollins called Monk for the session and Thelonious was only too pleased to make the date. It came out on a 10' Prestige record #PRLP 190. It has been reissued many times since. Another cameo by Monk was on "Sonny Rollins Volume 2" for Blue Note in 1957 on two tunes and a date in May 1957 with Monk on piano with the '57 edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for Atlantic. Monk really dominates on this one as all the tunes save for one are by Thelonious. The next sideman date came in May of 1958 when Monk's friend and fan, trumpeter extraordinaire Clark Terry called him for a date of Riverside Records.....this is tonight's Jazz Feature.

Clark Terry plays flugelhorn throughout and shows what a master he is of this softer more mellow trumpet. Clark's big buttery sound is heard on a variety of tunes. Terry wrote six of the ten songs. Two rarely played standards are heard: "Trust in Me" and Juan Tizol's "Moonlight Fiesta" plus a mood piece by Sara Cassey, a young composer friend of Terry's and one tune by Monk called "Let's Cool One". Monk could often be a difficult person to record in the studio but Orrin Keepnews, who owned Riverside and supervised the date said the "this was one of the easiest and smoothest dates I've ever experienced. Everything went down (except for a few false starts) in one take and Monk was as happy and co-operative as I've ever seen him!" The bassist is the great Sam Jones and the drummer is the powerful and dynamic Philly Joe Jones. "In Orbit" is what the date is called and it's a treat to hear so lend an ear! This was Monk's last date as a sideman. In 1971-2 he did tour with "The Giants of Jazz" with Dizzy, Sonny Stitt, Kai Winding, Al McKibbon and Blakey but that was an all-star group put together by promoter George Wein.

The Clark Terry/Monk album will be heard shortly after 11pm as usual but I will play during the show all of those "Monk as a sideman" sessions (except the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers date) I discussed in the above paragraphs. We'll have time for more as well so try to tune in from the start at 9pm. See you then.............................
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