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Live at the It Club
Thelonious Monk
Live at the It Club
Genre: Jazz
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2

Recorded over two evenings in Los Angeles in 1964 and arranged in order, this recording presents the great Thelonious Monk at the peak of his considerable talents--and with his most enduring sidemen, including saxophonist ...  more »


CD Details

All Artists: Thelonious Monk
Title: Live at the It Club
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tristar
Release Date: 8/19/1994
Genre: Jazz
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 074646528822, 766928091123, 738476133426

Recorded over two evenings in Los Angeles in 1964 and arranged in order, this recording presents the great Thelonious Monk at the peak of his considerable talents--and with his most enduring sidemen, including saxophonist Charlie Rouse and drummer Ben Riley. This version also restores 11 (!) cuts to their entirety (previous versions edited or offered shortened bass and drum solos). Aside from the now-complete versions of the set's songs, this It Club also offers three previously unreleased songs ("Teo," "Bright Mississippi," and "Just You, Just Me") and 20-bit digital remastering. The result is perhaps as close as we can come to a great-sounding complete show by one of the most fertile minds in the history of jazz. While not one of Monk's wilder live sessions, this set nonetheless effortlessly communicates the pianist's offbeat genius. From the first note, the sound (which thanks to the remaster, begs for high volume) is classic Monk: inquisitive right-hand chord exploration, thundering left-hand exclamations, and intoxicating runs up and down the keyboard fly from his fingers while the band gives him enough room so that every thought, strategy, and wild hare is allowed to range free. Highlights include an exquisitely gorgeous "I'm getting Sentimental over You", a spicy "Rhythm-A-Ning," and an uptempo "Bright Mississippi." With excellent liner notes by Bob Blumenthal and some new photos, this package rates as a must-buy for all Monkophiles. --S. Duda

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CD Reviews

One of the best by Monk's long-standing quartet.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 10/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"On Halloween of 1964, Thelonious Monk's quartet (Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums) had been together a little more than six months (although Rouse had been with Monk for several years prior and Riley had been with him for about a year; additionally Riley and Gales had played together in "Lockjaw" Davis' band)-- it'd be over two years before any of the group would leave Monk. During this window, a number of superb recordings were made, but I'd assert that "Live at the It Club" is best of them.

The band was an fire-- their interaction managed during these shows to strike a great balance between tight interaction and looseness. Rouse and Monk had reached a level of near-psychic interaction, with the tenor man's almost brittle tone and tight theme-based improv providing a perfect opportunity for Monk's sort of frantic accompaniment to settle. In Larry Gales, Monk had a bassist who managed to strike the fine balance between prodding and supporting, weaving between holding down the fort and responding to the leader. And while common wisdom states that Art Blakey was the perfect drummer for Monk, I'd assert that Ben Riley was in fact Monk's best drum partner-- his performance is sensitive, laid back, and inventive, by and large lacking in flash but at the same time being perfecty Monkish.

The performance covers six sets over two nights-- October 31 and November 1-- omitting one performance that evidentally had a serious tape flaw and excess "Epistrophy" theme statements (Monk ended each show with this). In addition, producer Teo Macero's edits, done to support the limited time allowed on the LP format-- have been undone and the complete performances are allowed to breathe. The resulting sets are superb-- Monk mixes favorites with more obscure cuts, the performances throughout are amazing. Particular highlights are an excited and somewhat moody take of "Well, You Needn't", an ecstatic reading of "Bemsha Swing", and a superb take of the rarely heard "Gallop's Gallop", where Rouse really gets to show his inventiveness. But the truth is there's not a bad performance on the set.

In addition to being a great performance for fans, this may be a great place for newcomers to start, it really is a fine performance. Highly recommended."
Thelonious as he was meant to be heard: LIVE in a club!
richard monk | San Antonio, Texas | 03/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I own at least a dozen Monk CD's. This is the one I would keep if I had to keep just one. The quality of the recording is absolutely the best. Dyanmics are lifelike. It sounds like you are there in It! The material is a superb mix of Monk classic originals and standards that swing. My favorite cuts include a deeply beautiful "I'm getting sentimental over you", which Monk plays very expressively, yet in a way on one else can. I like "Just You, Just Me" (which was previously unreleased) even better. It it my favorite of the 19 cuts. It also has a swinging tempo, great playing by Mr. Rouse, and humorous piano work by Monk. "Live at the It Club" seems to me to be the Thelonious Monk disc that best captures his live club work. I can only imagine what it was like to see the maestro at work, but the sound of these CDs goes a long way toward transporting me to the crowded, smoky, late night club atmosphere where Monk shone so brilliantly. So many of Monk's greatest works are represented here ("Nutty" has never been recorded, or performed, better in my opinion), that I think "Live at the It Club" should be heralded as the place to start for anyone wanting to hear a Thelonious Monk recording. Charlie Rouse wails and grinds on his sax, Ben Riley's drums and cymbals sound very realistic and keep the pulse pumping, while the bass is full and deep. Great sonics. I can't imagine a better Monk recording, unless, it included video, to see Monk play and use the piano to make such exquisite jazz."
Unmistakably a Genius
J. Conrad Guest | Northville, MI United States | 07/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I discovered Thelonious Monk in the mid-1980s, shortly after his death in 1982, and have been enjoying his music ever since, delighted that so much of his music has been and continues to be reissued on CD. Monk led the bebop movement in the '40s and '50s, but came into his own in the 1960s, appearing on the cover of Time Magazine in 1964. His music was often misunderstood and ridiculed, but such was his genius that although attempts have been made to imitate him, no one has ever been able to duplicate his sound. And now, in the 21st century, he is enjoying perhaps his greatest success posthumously.Live at the It Club, recorded in Los Angeles in 1964, is one of my Monk favorites. It contains many of Monk's essentials, from the angular Straight, No Chaser, Bright Mississippi, and Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are, to the eerily mellow Misterioso and Blue Monk, along with the melancholic 'Round Midnight, and Monk's trademark Epistrophy. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and Jerome Kern's All the Things You Are also receive the Monk treatment. Well, You Needn't, Rhythm-A-Ning, Bemsha Swing, Nutty and Teo are among the other tunes that sound great on this reissue.I've read that Monk's performances were either terrific or horrific, and that they were only as good as his audience's reaction to his playing. I own several live recordings of Monk's and this perhaps is the best, despite the shaky start on Misterioso. Although perhaps not as outrageous as some of his other performances, Monk attacks the piano, showcasing his unmistakable style of play, while Charlie Rouse, as recognizable on tenor sax as Monk is on piano, is fabulous. Larry Gales has several great bass solos, and Ben Riley is tight on drums. This version puts the entire original performance back together: 11 cuts have been restored to their entirety, and three previously unreleased songs have been added to this 20-bit re-mastered classic. Some great photos are also included, along with liner notes written by Bob Blumenthal.Sadly, shortly before his death, Monk simply stopped playing. Perhaps the joy of playing music had gone out of him; but what a thrill to see his music alive and well, and that new generations of music lovers are embracing this genius as never before.Whether you've never heard Monk play or are merely looking to add to your Monk collection, this set is highly recommended. Long live Monk!"