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THELONIUS MONK – CRISS CROSS – re-release on Columbia/ Pure Pleasure (2024)

This is an LP release of Monk’s second Columbia album after “Monk’s Dream” and is generally regarded as even better despite much of it being recorded during the same session. The line-up was completed by Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), John Ore (bass) and Frankie Dunlop on drums was well road tested and a very together unit. ‘Hackensack’ was a Monk original in which improvisational piano chording and use of piano and percussion can be heard; the title track became a Monk standard and one of Val Wilmer’s ‘Desert Island Discs’; ‘Tea for Two’ was described by Ted Gioia as “a quirky interpretation”, an ulterior version to the definitive version which would likely be ART TATUM’s. Gioia also reminds us that Shostakovich got into trouble for playing a version of it deemed by the Soviet Union as western decadence! On another jazz standard ‘Don’t Blame Me’ (“idiosyncratic” but still worthy of inclusion in Gioia’s book “The Jazz Standards”), Monk exercises his fingers on just about every note of the keyboard. Of course, lyrics of both had been extricated by the time the jazz dudes got their hands on it!

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