on 25 July 2012
Thelonious Monk produced a well-regarded album of big band music in concert in 1959 ("At Town Hall"). The band on that occasion was a little heavy on the brass side, including French horn and tuba, and, with the passage of time, the music has begun to sound a little dated. But, on this second occasion, from December 1963, the band had a stronger emphasis on reeds. As a result, it sounds lighter and more swinging as it works through the terrific arrangements - by Hall Overton, as on the previous occasion. The tracks by the band are obviously central to the proceedings. They allow plenty of room for the soloists - chiefly Thad Jones on cornet, Phil Woods on alto saxophone, Charlie Rouse (naturally) on tenor saxophone and Monk himself. Butch Warren's bass provides firm support, and Frank Dunlop, on drums, is prominent in the mix and drives the proceedings along. As the album title indicates, Monk's quartet features as well, and there's also a splendid Monk solo rendition of the old standard "Darkness on the Delta". The standout track is the final number, "Four In One" by the big band: after a round of solos, the band romps through Hall Overton's intricate orchestration of Monk's solo on his original recording, which leaves the audience stunned. Then the band goes into Monk's signature number, "Epistrophy", and away!