Monday, July 31, 2006

Monk Coltrane Live

Thelonious Monk belongs to the three most admired jazz musicians in my collection. His compositions, the harmonic structures of his tunes and his way of playing fascinates me.

Since he passed away, nearly twenty five years ago, no new work has been created of course. The number of records he made in the studio is limited, so live performances seem to be the only way to release new work of him and to feed the admirers.

Some times ago the recently discovered live recordings at Carnegie Hall with the Thelonious Monk Quartet featuring John Coltrane became a million seller.

Last night I listened to another recently released (complete) live performance with the two jazz giants made 10 month later in the Five Spot Café, New York City on 11 September 1958. The line up of the quartet is a bit different as on the November 1957 Carnegie Hall recordings - Roy Haynes replaced Shadow Wilson on drums.

The complete Five Spot performance in the correct chronological order including the incomplete Ruby My Dear ( the tape run out) and Nutty ( that was not part on an previous release) are now available at Gambit Records 69241

The discographical information is:

THELONIOUS MONK QUARTET: Thelonious Monk p, John Coltrane ts, Ahmed Abdul-Malik b, Roy Haynes dm.
Live at the Five Spot Café, New York City
1. Crepuscule With Nellie
2. Trinkle, Tinkle
3. In Walked Bud
4. I Mean You
5. Epistrophy
6. Ruby My Dear ( incomplete)
7. Nutty

Late 1956 Miles Davis threw John Coltrane out of his quintet because of his heroin and alcohol habits that made it impossible to hold him in the group. Monk was witness of the fight and told Coltrane: Man, as much as you play on saxophone, you don't have to take nothing like that; you can come and play with me anytime. And you Miles, you shouldn't be hitting on him like that.
John was fired by Miles and replaced by Johnny Griffin. Coltrane returned to Philadelphia to kick his habit.
Mid-1957 John Coltrane accepted Monk's offer. Although still doped up he started with him at the Five Spot Café in New York. Some weeks later Coltrane returned back home in order to overcome his persistent drug habit. When John finally returned to Miles' in 1958 he was clean.

The Carnegie Hall performance (November 1957) and the Five Spot Café recordings ( Sep. 1958) are from that interim period. The 1958 Five Spots recordings were made with a portable tape recorder, not a professional unit by Trane's wife Naima. John played already again at that moment with Miles Davis where he replaced Johnny Griffin' who had took his place after the 1957 incident.

Although the sound quality isn't as good as the Carnegie Hall performance the Five Spot sets bring us a relaxed and clean Coltrane and the noises of the drinking and talking audience give it a more cozy feeling.

Gambit Records 69241 (This 2006 CD has the complete concert ( incl. Ruby My Dear and Nutty) in the correct chronological order as it was recorded. )

Blue Note 799786 (The track order of this 1993 CD has been altered from the original performance. The last two tune are missing. The concert is misdated as summer 1957 - it should be 11 September 1958)

Tomorrow Jo will make a contribution for this blog spot.


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