Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues

While searching to the meaning of the titles Nica's Tempo I found the weird Thelonious Monk title Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues sometimes also written as Blues Bolivar Ba-lues-are.

This tune was recorded in New York City, 9 Oct. 1956 for Riverside with the Thelonious Monk Quintet, featuring Ernie Henry on alto sax, Sonny Rollins on tenor, Monk at the piano, Oscar Pettiford at the bass and Max Roach on drums.

Monk was a great piano player, but pretty weird sometimes. But few people could manage his behaviours, he would lock himself up for days with no more then his piano and at concerts everybody hoped that he would show up or, at least, would be in time.
Nica, full name Baronnness Pannonica De Koenigswarter, the woman who became patroness of several musicians, took pity on Monk and gave him a place to sleep or study and organised his tours.

In 1956 there was an incident the tune derived its name. The biography Straight, No Chaser ( The Life And Genius Of Thelonious Monk) by Leslie Gourse reads Blues Bolivar Ba-lues-are is a blues named for the Hotel Bolivar, where Nica rented a suite, after she left the Stanhope and then the Algonquin hotels. The Algonquin had objected to Monk's wandering around the lobby in a bright red shirt, Nica said. Monk's appearance had frightened some guests, who packed and left. Of course this story smells to racial prejudice.

Wouldn't it be nice to make a data base with all background stories of tune titles? Suggestions welcome !



Blogger C├ęsar Noriega Ramos said...

I'm Venezuelan and was intriguing for me why Monk titled this song after Venezuelan Independence hero Simon Bolivar and thanks to your post it's clear now.

10:26 PM  

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