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Lay for the Day 15th October

1956: Thelonious Monk returns to the studio with Ernie Henry, Sonny Rollins, Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach to continue work on his album Brilliant Corners.
The two tunes recorded at this session were ‘Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are’ and ‘Pannonica’. A final session on 7th December, with Clark Terry on trumpet replacing Ernie Henry on alto sax, and Paul Chambers replacing Oscar Pettiford on bass, yielded the fourth track for the album, ‘Bemsha Swing’. The album was a breakthrough for Monk, replacing his reputation as an oddity with renown as a vital creator of modern jazz.

Thelonious Makes Thirty-Three – continued from 9th October

He listened to her jackie-ing for a while, then interrupted the epistrophy.
“Yeah, yeah, honey, let’s cool one. We’ll see Bemsha swing for this. Now listen, you ugly beauty, meet me as soon as you can. Yes, I mean you.” And he gave her the name of a nearby bar. “That’s right. You want me to spell it? Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are. Okay? Bye-ya.”
He’d just slid into a corner booth and downed a couple of green chimneys, when in walked Bud.
”Hey, ya stuffy turkey,” sneered the gunsel, “guess ya heard about Monk’s mood?”
M. looked up. “Listen, punk, just ask me now, if you want a case of boo-boo’s birthday.”
“Okay, okay – no need to raise four.”


John Gibbens,
from The Improvised Version, Vol. 2

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar