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New T.S. Monk and Archival Thelonious On the Way

Want to know what Thelonious Monk sounded like when he was practicing? The visionary pianist’s son, drummer T.S. Monk, hopes so. Rare recordings of the visionary jazz composer are a major part of the plan for Thelonious Records, a new label owned by the Monk family that’s been in the works for over two years.

The family announced the label’s formation in June of 2001, but it’s taken until now to get everything in order. The label’s first album, T.S. Monk’s Higher Ground, will be released August 26. The first T.S. Monk album since 1999’s Cross Talk, Higher Ground showcases the writing talents of the members of the drummer’s septet and, as T.S. describes it, sounds “somewhere between Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and tomorrow’s sound. It’s really smooth, and it’s really jazz.”

T.S. will take the septet out on the road starting August 1. Here’s a list of confirmed dates, but note that more tour dates will be added soon.

August 1 – Milwaukee, WI Third Ward Festival

August 6 – Telluride, CO Sunset Concert Series

August 8 – Steamboat Springs, CO Strings In The Mountain

September 19 – Davidson, NC Davidson College

September 24-25 – Grinnell, IA Grinnell College

September 26 – Chicago, IL Green Dolphin

October 10 – Jacksonville, FL Ritz Theater

October 22-24 – Durham, NC Duke University

November 8 – Newark, NJ NJ Performing Arts Center

In addition to the new T.S. album, Thelonious Records also plans to release archival recordings of the elder Monk. Most of these are concert recordings that have been mastered by fader-and-knob king Rudy Van Gelder. One of these, Thelonious Monk Quartet Live in New York, is the earliest known Monk quartet date with saxophonist Charlie Rouse. The one non-concert CD listed on the label’s Web site is an audio document of Thelonious Monk “transforming” the standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” into his own memorable version.

A deal with Joel Dorn’s new-ish Hyena label should have Thelonious Records releases in stores everywhere. Dorn is overseeing the archival recordings side of the label and has Ryko lined up for distribution. The first Monk-in-concert title, The Paris Concerts, is set for release on September 23.

Also, as we reported last month, Thelonious Monk fans can gear up for a handful of forthcoming reissues from the pianist’s Columbia period. The albums Underground, Criss-Cross, It’s Monk Time, and Solo Monk will all be reissued August 19 with bonus tracks aplenty.

Originally Published