Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (Oxford Studies in Recorded Jazz)
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In early 2005, an engineer at the Library of Congress accidentally discovered, in an unmarked box, the recording of Thelonious Monk's and John Coltrane's performance at a 1957 benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. Long considered one of the most important musical meetings in modern jazz, Monk's and Coltrane's work together during a scant few months in 1957 had, until this discovery, been thought to be almost entirely undocumented.
In this book, Gabriel Solis provides an historical, cultural, and analytical study of this landmark recording, which was released by Blue Note records later in 2005. Taking a wide-ranging approach to the recording, Solis addresses issues of "liveness," jazz teaching and learning, enculturation, and historiography. Because nearly a half century passed between when the recording was made and its public release, it is a particularly interesting lens through which to view jazz both as a historical tradition and as a contemporary cultural form. Most importantly Solis accounts for the music itself. Offering in depth analytical discussions of each composition, as well as Monk's and Coltrane's improvisational performances he provides insight into Monk's impact on Coltrane as he developed his signature "sheets of sound" style, as well as into the influence of a strong side-man, like Coltrane, on Monk at his creative and professional peak. The first study of one of the most significant jazz releases of the twenty-first century, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall is essential reading for all jazz scholars, students, musicians, and fans.
it, Appelbaum unearthed reel-to-reel tapes containing a November 29, 1957, Morningside Community Center benefit concert, which the Voice of America recorded in Carnegie Hall but never broadcast. The tapes caught Monk and Coltrane at creative peaks, clearly digging one another’s playing, working with a representative set list and best of all, recorded with a state-of-the-art system. The recording sounded good: Monk and Coltrane’s playing came through clearly, and the rhythm players, Ahmed
back to A , now as part of a rising sequence that spans two measures, reaching a B min7 chord that prepares the way for the piece’s biggest A major gesture, a two-measure V chord over an E pedal. Again, the big tonal gesture comes at the wrong moment, and even though its harmonic implications are ultimately realized, with a move to A major in m. 6 of the bridge, the following two measures again undercut the stability of that tonic chord, moving back to the B dominant harmony that starts the final
figures in mm. 6, 7, and 8, Coltrane plays a rising figure in m. 6, followed by a descent in m. 7 and another rising figure in m. 8. The relationship to the head is only in the use of clearly delineated one-measure phrases at this moment. After this fairly limited reference to the head, Coltrane then plays a third A section that bears virtually no relation to the head, instead playing constant figuration with breaths that give an asymmetrical patterning—breaking at the end of m. 5, in m. 7, and
eighth notes that links these two choruses together and makes them bluesy, and in part it is his use of an alternation between D and D, the “blue” third of the B dominant 7 chord. Coltrane concludes the section of the solo fairly decisively, coming to a strong break in m. 12 of the fifth chorus. The second section of the solo begins in the sixth chorus and ratchets up the overall sense of intensity, a move that Coltrane nicely prepared with the long, steady buildup over the course of the first
that Monk thought “textually”—which is to say that he appears to have had a strong work concept in mind for many of his pieces, both in how he wanted the heads played and in how he improvised on them. Moreover, he is correct in saying that at times Monk appears to play solos that engage in only a limited way in what many would think of simply as improvisation. Rather, his penchant to draw on large blocks of what Perchard calls “quasi-textual formalization” in his solos confounds any simple view