I listened to the Thelonius Monk Orchestra at Town Hall today, recomended by our illustrious and conspicuously absent T Berry Shuffle a while back. Well of course he was right. The sound is fantastic and the music is just as good. For some reason I never got around to buying this one before. It probably has to do with the fact that big band isn't my favorite mode of transportation in jazzland. I did buy the other Monk Big Band album on Columbia years ago and thought I didn't need another one. Well, I was wrong. The two albums sound different to me (surprise, surprise) in that the Town Hall performance seems a little more relaxed. I almost said loose, but I don't want to imply less than stellar playing, because that isn't the case. The one track that really stood out for me was Little Rootie Tootie and we get an alternate cut too to make sure you're paying attention. I've only listened to the cd once, so I can't give you any detailed notes yet, but it's a winner if you're a Monk fan.
Second up is Duke Pearson's The Right Touch on Bluenote. This is an octet date which is a little unusual for BN and it's a cooker in the tradition of BN. The really big names on the album are Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine. They do their job well as expected. Both were still on top of their game at the time. James Spaulding and Garrett Brown are also here on alto sax and trombone respectively. They had previously played with Freddie Hubbard and Andrew Hill so they know their way around charts. I'm starting to learn and appreciate what Duke Pearson brought to the table. Although his playing isn't virtuosic, his composing and arranging is damn near that. He really knows how to put an album of good music together. It's no surprise that at the time of this album he was the BN house arranger. They knew talent when they saw it. Oh yeah, the album....Some upbeat, some ballads, a latin tune here, a funky one there... It's all good. I have yet to be disappointed by the man. There's a Mosaic Select (3cds) of his material but I don't remember at this time what it included. I might have to pick it up. Another album called Prairie Dog is on a jazz blog for download. I've never seen that one in any other form and it's good too.
I also picked up Donald Byrd's Cat Walk and Grant Green's Am I Blue, but I haven't heard them yet.