Janitor recorded unheard Monk school album sees light of day

The release of the Thelonious Monk Palo Alto album, never out before, is one of the few big pleasures recently in the grim year for jazz that is 2020. Listen to the sound of applause for one on the record: That's a tonic. Recorded in 1968 in a …

Published: 19 Sep 2020. Updated: 20 months.

The release of the Thelonious Monk Palo Alto album, never out before, is one of the few big pleasures recently in the grim year for jazz that is 2020. Listen to the sound of applause for one on the record: That's a tonic. Recorded in 1968 in a Californian high school it is not the hugely abundant quantity that appeals because after all there are only six tracks and the album clocks in at well under an hour, with 'Well You Needn't' and 'Blue Monk' the longest tracks: the rest much shorter.

More it is the storybook quality of the release because remarkably the album came about after an enterprising teenager at a California school decided to invite and persuade Monk to play and the gig was recorded by the school janitor, the tapes in storage ever since.

The pianist is heard with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley and the overall performance has a zest and zing to it and the sound quality is better than serviceable, you get almost a tactile sense of the music-making at play.

The music of Monk 38 years after his death is still a hugely significant factor in contemporary jazz. It's hard to imagine his music as not part of the repertoire. Hearing this decades-old recording for the first time today and imagining him playing that unlikely day in that unlikely place is somehow deeply stirring and highly recommendable.

Out now via Impulse/Legacy.

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Rymden, Space Sailors

Opening with a stonking bass riff from Dan Berglund on 'The Life and Death of Hugo Drax' Rymden know how to let their hair down (er, where available) and make their presence felt. With ex-e.s.t drummer Magnus Öström once again on board plus keys …

Published: 18 Sep 2020. Updated: 20 months.

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Opening with a stonking bass riff from Dan Berglund on 'The Life and Death of Hugo Drax' Rymden know how to let their hair down (er, where available) and make their presence felt. With ex-e.s.t drummer Magnus Öström once again on board plus keys boffin Bugge Wesseltoft injecting a certain prog-jazz dare I say dadjazz urgency the tracks groove along merrily, it's as if the guys are tinkering on a clapped out engine in the garage and suddenly there is a mighty roar as the thing begins to work. Very different to e.s.t. there's less of an introspective side to Rymden, although the band can do subtlety (eg on 'Arriving on Ramajay Pt 1') the three finding a lot of commmon ground amid the chunky riffs and buckling up to prepare for those burning runs. Berglund's practically baroque arco feature on 'Pilgrimstad' is just one of the highlights on an excellent record where the compositions make a lot of sense and the trio know at all times how to communicate better than most. Out on Jazzland.