Alone in San Francisco ... - rants & raves - craigslist (2024)

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Thelonious Monk could do no wrong, so it's not a question of his other records being inferior ... — ... but a Monk solo record is the best way to fully experience the magnitude of his musical mind, and this one is probably the one to have. Recorded "live" in a concert-hall/night-club (which still exists, I think), but without an audience. It's what you need, now. Or anytime. And it is ... Great Instrumental Music ... ... I hope you enjoy it ... !

Thelonious Monk

"Thelonious Alone in San Francisco"

THIS is an album created, you might say, by stripping
things down to the essentials: a bare hall, recording
equipment, and one highly talented musician. When that
musician is THELONIOUS MONK, it should not be at all
surprising that the result is as intriguing and challenging
a program as you could hope to get from any jazz
combination of any size.
This remarkably creative pianist has often been con-
sidered "alone" (sometimes correctly, sometimes not)
during the course of a still-expanding career that spans
all of modern jazz. Thelonious was of course a focal
point of the "be-hop" revolution of the very early 1940s
and he has remained a major force ever since, both
through his own work and by his influence on others.
There were years when much of the public, most critics
and even some musicians left Monk alone, either admitting
that he baffled them or claiming that he was merely
an over-legendized eccentric. But by the late 1950s, there
was widespread recognition of his unique talents (for
examples: first place among pianists in the Down Beat
Critics Poll and second in their Readers Poll in both '58
and '59), and he remained musically alone only in the
sense that so highly personal an artist and composer
must always remain somewhat apart and totally
understandable only (if to anyone) to himself.
Being "alone" in the specific sense of recording by himself
is of course a somewhat different matter, but not
too different. This is Monk's second album of this kind;
the first ("Thelonious Himself" RLP 12-235) having
been recorded two and a half years earlier, before the
current acceptance of Monk began to take hold. In the
notes to that LP, I commented that it is not always easy
for other musicians, no matter how skilled or sympathetic,
to "grasp fully or execute perfectly the intricate and
demanding patterns that Monk's mind can evolve," so that
one special attraction of a solo album is that it presents
the pianist in a self-sufficient vein, offering an opportunity
"to hear Thelonious as he thinks and sounds when he
has chosen to be, temporarily, complete in himself."
All this certainly still holds true for 1959 solo Monk,
particularly since his now being a much bigger 'name'
than he was early in 1957 is both less surprising and less
distracting to Thelonious than it is to just about anyone
else. Actually, circ*mstances combined to add several
extra degrees of aloneness to this recording, and to make
it perhaps an even more striking example of an artist
looking into the depths of himself. Monk was making
his first visit to San Francisco (a second solo album had
been planned for some time; the coincidence that Thelonious
and this writer were born in the West Coast city
at the same time brought it into being there). In a long,
empty meeting hall - acoustically quite good, but rather
bizarre-looking, with Monk sitting on-stage with banks
of ancient, ornate chandeliers for background. In a
strange city when photographer Bill Claxton drove
him to various landmarks (including the cable-car setting
of the cover photo) during a break in the session, it was
Monk's first real view of San Francisco. And, although
personal matters generally don't belong in liner notes,
it might also be relevant that Thelonious had just had
to leave his wife behind in Los Angeles, recuperating
from major surgery; and that the first recording session
came the afternoon after the opening night of his engagement
at the Black Hawk-when, due to varied confusions
not of his making, Thelonious had been the only
member of his quartet on hand for the first two sets.
To what extent all these varieties of aloneness are reflected
on the LP is an open question. What is clear is
that Monk is in a predominately lyrical and introspective
mood, with quiet emphasis on the blues and also with
flashes of his characteristic wry humor. Some of the
selections make for interesting comparison with previous
recorded versions: Pannonica is now less 'tough,' more
richly a ballad than in the original quintet version on
"Brilliant Corners" (RLP 12-226); Blue Monk is more
subdued than in the on-the-job quartet effort on "Thelonious
in Action" (RLP 12-262). The latter is one of
three blues included here, the other two being new ones:
Bluehawk, and Round Lights-this last in honor of those
chandeliers! Ruby, My Dear has always been a ballad
(he had most recently recorded it with Coleman Hawkins
on "Monk's Music"-RLP 12-242), but seems still deeper
and firmer as a solo.
The other of his own tunes is the appropriately-titled
Reflections; and then there are four standards, two of
which (Everything Happens and You Took the Words)
are old favorites of Monk's, the sort he often plays solo
at the start of a set in a club. Remember is a rather
affectionate analysis of the Irving Berlin warhorse. But
There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie, a 1929 number
associated with Harry Richman, is something else again,
an unplanned-for and unlikely inclusion. Thelonious
came across it while leafing through a folio of old standards,
recalled it, and proceeded to have a ball with it,
exploring it in search of Monk-ish chords, and generally
justifying his comment that "they won't be expecting
something like this from me."


Thelonious Alone in San Francisco is jazz pianist Thelonious Monk's third solo album, recorded in 1959. (Piano Solo, aka Solo 1954, recorded in Paris, and Thelonious Himself (1957), were Monk's previous forays into this form.)

It was recorded in Fugazi Hall, San Francisco, California, on October 21 and 22, 1959, but without an audience present. ...

Thelonious Sphere Monk (⫽θəˈloʊniəs⫽ October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser", "Ruby, My Dear", "In Walked Bud", and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington.

Monk's compositions and improvisations feature dissonances and angular melodic twists, often using flat ninths, flat fifths, unexpected chromatic notes together, low bass notes and stride, and fast whole tone runs, combining a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of switched key releases, silences, and hesitations.

Monk's distinct look included suits, hats, and sunglasses. He also had an idiosyncratic habit during performances: while other musicians continued playing, Monk would stop, stand up, and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano.

Monk is one of five jazz musicians to have been featured on the cover of Time (the others being Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Wynton Marsalis).

1917 – 1933: Early life
Thelonious Sphere Monk was born on October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thelonious (or Thelious) and Barbara Monk. His sister, Marion, had been born two years earlier. His birth certificate spelled his first name as "Thelious" and did not list his middle name, taken from his maternal grandfather, Sphere Batts. His brother, Thomas, was born in January 1920. In 1922, the family moved to the Phipps Houses, 243 West 63rd Street, in Manhattan, New York City; the neighborhood was known as San Juan Hill because of the many African-American veterans of the Spanish–American War who lived there (urban renewal displaced the long-time residents of the community, who saw their neighborhood replaced by the Amsterdam Housing Projects and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, though the Phipps Houses remained). Monk started playing the piano at the age of six, taking lessons from a neighbor, Alberta Simmons, who taught him stride playing in the style of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Eubie Blake. Monk's mother also taught him to play some hymns, and he would sometimes accompany her singing at church. He attended Stuyvesant High School, a public school for gifted students, but did not graduate.

For two years, between about the ages 10 to 12, Monk's piano teacher was Austrian-born Simon Wolf, a pianist and violinist who studied under Alfred Megerlin, the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. Monk learned to play pieces by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Mozart, but was particularly drawn to the works of Chopin and Rachmaninoff. The lessons were discontinued when it became clear that Monk's main focus was jazz music.

1933 – 1946: Early performing career
Monk put his first band together at the age of 16, snagging a few restaurant and school gigs. At 17, Monk toured with an evangelist, playing the church organ, and in his late teens he began to find work playing jazz. In the early to mid-1940s, he was the house pianist at Minton's Playhouse, a Manhattan nightclub. Much of Monk's style (in the Harlem stride tradition) was developed while he performed at Minton's where he participated in after-hours cutting contests, which featured many leading jazz soloists of the time. Monk's musical work at Minton's was crucial in the formulation of bebop, which would be furthered by other musicians ... -- Wikipedia



More Great Instrumental Music (G.I.M.) for you to enjoy ... !

.. ... ...

more, More, MORE! ... more, More, MORE! ... yes, there is more Great Instrumental Music for you to hear, enjoy, love, learn, and treasure ... :

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