Thelonius Monk's work stands above nearly all composers in the Jazz Canon. Only Duke Ellington has had their work recorded more often than Monk, whose stutter-step stride style and innovative melodic sense was coupled with an impenetrable personality, innovative fashion sense, and quirky live performance moves. But from his early days in the 1940s at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, Jazz players have been drawn to his work. I'll start out out the 9pm hour on Mainstream and Modern Sunday night with a couple of my favorite recent-era dives into Monk.
Eric Reed's career as a pianist has taken him from the Wynton Marsalis Septet to work with Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard, and then the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. For most of this century he has recorded as a side man and on his own projects. In 2012 he recorded The Baddest Monk on Savant, actually his second album of Monk compositions after 2011's The Dancing Monk. Tonight we'll play his spare take on 'Round Midnight from The Baddest Monk, featuring vocals from Jose James.
We lost Dr. Lonnie Smith last year at age 79. The early years of his career included a stint in the George Benson Quartet, work with Lou Donaldson, and then a long, winding career that ended up with some brilliant late-period albums on Blue Note under the aegis of Don Was, who produced the records. The first of these was Evolution, released in 2016. We'll play Smith's jamming, propulsive Hammond B-3 take on Monk's Straight No Chaser. Monk lives on WCLK.