Beverly's Weekly Playlist: Journey Into Jazz - Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane
By Beverly Grafton
As I sit here writing these words I'm already on the fourth track of this album and all I can say is that I'm simply gobsmacked. Two of the biggest names in Jazz on one album is such a treat for my ears and what better way to celebrate the second day of the week by presenting two of the names that were a massive influence into my most basic understanding of Jazz. I encountered Thelonious Monk back when I was 14 years old, on Saturday night, quite like tonight but on a Saturday. Symphony 92.4 had a 2 hour broadcast of all songs Jazz each Saturday back then and from the first time I chanced upon it, I became a regular listener. I cannot for the life of me remember what song it was exactly but I remembered how I felt listening to his piano work. Ok, I'll admit, what got to me first was his (to me) outrageous name. How little I knew then, eh? But once I experienced the somewhat almost constant melancholic and heavy-handed twinkling of his piano keys, regardless of the fact that it wasn't a ballad but rather a mid-tempo tune, I was smitten. In fact, I still am.
I came into knowing about John Coltrane much, much later when I started to gig about town. So many people to meet and so much more to learn, I plagued all the veterans around me with as many questions as I could and somewhere along the way, I was told about John Coltrane. I still didn't get all into it yet because I was and still am, a vocalist first. It was when I finally started going to Jazz jams and watched horn players take to the stage and perform intricate and lung-crushing solos (sometimes to terrible consequences) that I started to find out more about this name. All I can say is that when you get hit by Coltrane, nothing else is ever the same again. His complicated lines, perfect progressions performed at such speed and accuracy leave me quite breathless and it is only after some time that I find myself able to function again.
I can honestly say that Instrumental Jazz may not be for everyone and that's ok. I find myself appreciating it more now though since the lyric-reliant music of today casts a rather jaded and cynical shadow over my ears in recent years. So while I do hope you'll enjoy this entire album, it's ok if you choose to listen to it one track at a time, just the same way you'd sip at a cognac or single malt.