This is an hour with pianist Thelonious Monk’s quartet featuring Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (double bass) and Ben Riley (drums).
They play two sets running about half an hour each, filmed in black-and-white in TV studios without an audience. The first set was done in Norway in 1966, the other in Denmark the same year. Hence we get two versions of ‘Lulu’s Back In Town’ but they are equally interesting. Featured also are ‘Blue Monk’, ‘Don’t Blame Me’ (piano only on this one), ‘Epistrophy’ and ‘Round Midnight’.
This is a great companion piece to the Eastwood documentary “Straight No Chaser.” Two clips from concert performances in Norway and Denmark during Monk’s 1966 tour offer a glimpse of what Thelonious Monk was up to in the 60s. Charlie Rouse is on Saxophone, Larry Gales on Bass, and Ben Riley on drums. It’s clear that Monk is engaged throughout with these musicians. Like any live jazz, some moments are better than others, but the DVD is work serious viewing by anyone who wants to get a better understanding of Monk’s music. It’s shot in black and white and has few cinematic flashes, a few close ups, some interesting camera angles, but for the most part it’s pretty straightforward filmed performance, a documentary of some historic moments in jazz.