Thelonious Monk & Gerry Mulligan: 'Round Midnight


'Round Midnight


Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax) and Thelonious Monk (piano)


Mulligan Meets Monk (Riverside OJC 301)

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Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Thelonious Monk (piano), Wilbur Ware (bass), Shadow Wilson (drums).

Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: Reeves Sound Studios, New York, August 12-13, 1957


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Producer Orrin Keepnews always did a brilliant job of putting his star musicians into interesting settings that tended to display new facets of their talent. As a result, the Monk recordings on Riverside represent a far more vital body of work than the later releases the pianist made when he switched to a major label. But matching Monk with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan was an especially daring move. The folks at eHarmony would never approve. Who would think that the "High Priest of Bop" (as Monk was sometimes known at the time) and the fair-haired boy of the cool school (who made his reputation by getting rid of the piano in his band) could connect on the same wavelength? But judging by the results, Monk and Mulligan get along like carrots and peas. The opening is mostly cool school restraint, but the intensity ratchets up over the course of the song, and by the time we get to the final melody restatement, Monk is at his most dissonant. Mulligan seems to thrive on this battlefield, where the comping chords come flying like shrapnel. A peculiar moment in the discographies of both musicians, but a great date by any measure.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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