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Live At the It Club

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Product Details

  • Vinyl
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B001GZY734
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,839 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on October 31, 2005
Format: Audio CD
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.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By richard monk on March 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Conrad Guest on July 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
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.
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