Friday, August 31, 2012

Prelude to Monk

As the dog days of August draw to a close I plan to spend part of September on my holy trinity of pianists: Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. This will give me a perfect opportunity to tie in Piano: the other percussion instrument and my personal favorites. I decided to write this post to lay the foundation of the ones to come.

Understand that Wilson, Powell and Monk are not the only pianists I admire - they just happen to be three who have influenced me and whose music I listen to every day. Yep, every single day the three of them are in my playlists.

As a prelude to Monk I want to introduce an album that until 2005 was either lost or forgotten and relegated to the dust bin of history: Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall

As a drummer the mere fact that Shadow Wilson is on this album is reason enough to study it. However, as a musician, the melding of two dissimilar styles - Coltrane's sheets of sound and Monk's characteristic chordal structures and between-the-cracks scales with a lot of space. Coltrane takes that space and fills it with magic. See my 10 August 2012 post for an explanation of Coltrane changes and sheets of sound.

First, the story of the discovery:

Shadow Wilson's name comes up a few times in the above discussion. The salient point is his drums and cymbals were beautifully captured (which is a big reason I opted to write this post.)

But this is about a lot more than drummers. Monk and Coltrane combined their musical genius to produce music that has stood the the test of time and should be studied by every musician regardless of his or her instrument (or preferred genre). Shadow Wilson and bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik were as locked in musically as would be Abdul-Malik and Roy Haynes when Monk and Coltrane would collaborate ten months later, producing Live At The Five Spot Café '58.

Here are some samples from the album:

My future posts about Monk will discuss his music and some of my favorite drummers he incorporated into his ensembles over the years. In the meantime, enjoy the music.

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