Stories » Unheard Thelonious Monk recording of a surprise 1968 high school performance, finally set for release / WFMZ69 News

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Unheard Thelonious Monk recording of a surprise 1968 high school performance, finally set for release / WFMZ69 News

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In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert happened and was recorded by the school's janitor. Palo Alto is set for release on July 31, 2020 on legendary jazz label Impulse! Records – marking Thelonious Monk's posthumous debut on John Coltrane's label home.

"That performance is the one of the best live recordings I've ever heard by Thelonious," says T.S. Monk, son of the pianist/composer maestro, drummer and founder of the Thelonious Monk Institute. "I wasn't even aware of my dad playing a high school gig, but he and the band were on it. When I first heard the tape, from the first measure, I knew my father was feeling really good."

The concert was quite impressively recorded by Palo Alto High School's janitor, and the tape sat in the attic of Scher's family home for years. When he contacted T.S. Monk to release it, they chose legendary label Impulse! Records, the label home of John Coltrane, known as "the house that Trane built." The relationship between Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane is well documented and historic, so it is particularly appropriate that almost forty years after his death, Monk finally makes his Impulse! debut with Palo Alto.

Palo Alto is the first of multiple planned joint releases over the next five years from Impulse! Records in conjunction with the Monk estate's Rhythm-A-Ning Entertainment led by T.S. Monk.

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