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Lay for the Day 9th October

1956: on the day before his 39th birthday, Thelonious Monk convenes with Ernie Henry (alto sax), Sonny Rollins (tenor), Oscard Pettiford (bass) and Max Roach (drums) at Reeves Sound Studios in New York City to start work on his third album for the Riverside label. Its two predecessors (Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington and The Unique Thelonious Monk) were trio sets and contained no Monk originals, exhibiting instead his inimitable piano style. Now the label was ready to present him as bandleader and composer. One master was recorded at this initial session, which would be the album’s title track, Brilliant Corners.
The solution to the piece below is in the title.
 

Thelonious Makes Thirty-Three

Misterioso was in his little rootie-tootie round midnight, driving slow for the brake’s sake, when he took one of those brilliant corners and ran into the evidence. Trinkle-tinkle – the tune of falling headlight glass, played twice. He got out and checked the street – he wasn’t being followed – then went straight, no chaser, to the nearest phone.
“Ruby, my dear,” he said, “tell Oska T I’ve found the blue monk, down on Pannonica, just off Minor. And tell him, well, you needn’t bother with the four in one. He ain’t rhythm-a-ning.”

Continues on 15th October


John Gibbens,
from The Improvised Version, Vol. 2


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar