This beautiful archive concert demonstrates how Thelonious Monk was a true outlier, even in the jazz world. While eccentricity can occasionally be confused for genius, for Monk the two meant the same thing. Indeed, it sometimes felt that his quirks – the erect posture, the private, on-stage dancing during his bandmates solos – were all people talked about. The year after this concert he appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine and the article focused more on his perceived strangeness than the notes he played.
Yet Monk only ever cared about the music, he just heard it differently to the others. A true deconstructionist, he broke codes and rearranged the piano universe through dissonance, subversion and the search for crystalline beauty in unusual angular geometry that most pianists would avoid at all costs. His art was similar to Picasso's – ungraspable, free, unresolved – yet truer to reality as a result. Together with his quartet in 1963, Monk delivered classics from his repertoire like “Criss Cross” and “Monk’s Dream,” with Frankie Dunlop offering a lengthy drum solo.