USA, 1967, post-bop

Thelonious MonkStraight, No Chaser: A delightful mix of original compositions and renditions of Ellington, Taki, and Arlen. Note the drastic yet welcome change of pace between the first and second tracks, as Monk’s locomotive brings us bopping into the station, there awaiting us a low-lit, smoky lounge. Can’t stay here forever, though. Monk’s tripping piano gets you moving again. Flip the record, put the needle down, begin Side B with “Japanese Folk Song”, which is indeed 「荒城の月」 (moon over a ruined castle), written over a hundred years ago. As it sounds so different from everything else, this seems to me to be the centerpiece of the album. I really enjoy the barely audible singing in the background, echoing the piano.

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