Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thelonious MONK - Criss Cross 1962

Thelonious MONK - Criss Cross 1962
CS 8838


CRISS-CROSS is the result of five sessions with the ever-present Charlie Rouse on tenor plus the rhythm compliment of drummer Frankie Dunlop and bassist John Ore. It was recorded at a time when Monk had actually become a popular beat icon; his iconoclast mug appeared on the cover of Time barely a year later.

While the majority of the material here is Monk's, his whimsical way with the two standards, "Tea For Two" and "Don't Blame Me," makes them special treats. The former is like an old suitcase bursting at the seams with zany new toys, the melody rife with Monk's truncated chromatic tails, his solo chunky with erratic-sounding bass comping, all of it amusingly bookended by the tongue-in-cheek straightness of Ore's intro and Monk's final toy-piano notes. By contrast, Rouse stays true to the compartmentalized quality of the head on "Criss-Cross," blowing short, dense strands that sound like the flight path of a beatnik butterfly as Dunlop responds sympathetically, all the while maintaining a solidly swinging base. CRISS-CROSS is choice Monk finery.

Criss-Cross was Thelonious Monk's first recording for Columbia. His quartet at the time consisted of Charles Rouse, Frankie Dunlop, and John Ore. Legacy's deluxe reissue is a case in point for the high standards they've set in caring for Columbia's jazz catalog. Here are the original nine tracks -- plus three bonus cuts (both alternate takes), two of which are completely unreleased. In addition there is a wonderful set of liner notes by renowned Monkist Dick Katz and a slew of amazing photographs from the sessions. Packaging aside, the music found here is hotly debated by critics as one of two choices for Monk's best recording for the label. It is his first record for the label, and he decided to issue a set of his own compositions, all of which had been recorded previously (there are two standards on the set) but never in this hard-swinging, light-touch way.
Thelonious Monk (piano);
Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone);
Frankie Dunlop (drums).
John Ore- Bass
A1. Hackensack 4:12 
A2. Tea For Two 3:46 
A3. Criss-Cross 4:52 
A4. Eronel 4:29 
B1. Rhythm-A-Ning 3:53 
B2. Don't Blame Me 7:04 
B3. Think Of One 5:17 
B4. Crepuscule With Nellie 2:45

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