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Live Monk from 1968 is a genuine find, a delight from start to finish / Kind Of Jazz

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Sometimes these previously unreleased, newly discovered albums turn out to be something of a disappointment; lots of hype over a recording session or concert that was probably left in the vault for good reason. That's not the case here. Palo Alto, a live recording from October 1968, captures Thelonious Monk's quarter with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse on a really good night. or in this case, a really good afternoon.

The concert was planned by a sixteen year-old schoolboy named Danny Scher, who arranged to invite Monk to play at his high school with the noble aim of promoting racial equality and raising money for his school. The concert very nearly failed to take place. There were concerns that Monk would never show, and tickets sales were slow at first. There was also a last-minute scramble to arrange transportation for the band, who had another gig to go to that evening.

No matter. Monk appeared, and so did the crowds. At 47 minutes, it's a short set, but the band are on fire, and there's a warmth and vibrancy to the playing throughout. The album opens with a delightful version of Monk's romantic Ruby My Dear, with Rouse on fine form, delivering a lyrical solo. There's a rousing version of Well You Needn't, which is quite superb. Note the fine support from Monk as Rouse solos, before the pianist takes over. There's a lengthy bowed bass solo by Larry Gales, who sings along as he solos, Jarrett-style, before drummer Ben Riley comes in with a lively solo of his own. Don't Blame Me by Jimmy McHugh features Monk alone, and even the out-of-tune piano cannot detract from the enjoyment.

After a delay of a few weeks, the album will be released on Impulse! on September 18th.

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