Thelonious Monk: Dinah
Thelonious Monk (piano)
Solo Monk (Columbia/Sony 47854)
Thelonious Monk (piano).
Composed Sam Lewis, Joe Young and Harry Akst.
Recorded: Los Angeles, November 2, 1964
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Monk was the consummate modernist of common-practice jazz. He was arguably the consummate historian, too. Consider:
Of his peers and followers, Monk showed the most interest in performing repertoire composed before 1930 ("Dinah" is from 1925). Pianist Herbie Nichols, in the first-ever review of Monk in 1944, wrote he would rather hear Monk play 'Boston' than anyone else. ('Boston' is more or less the left-hand 'oompah' of stride, but filled out and played by both hands behind a singer or band - Count Basie did it especially well.) Monk Plays Duke Ellington was one of the first and still one of the best tribute albums by a major jazz artist. And producer Orrin Keepnews reported that after listening to the playback of 1957's "Functional," Monk declared, "I sound just like James P. Johnson."
"Dinah" is the first, fastest and most Harlem-esqe performance contained in Solo Monk, the most stride-reliant album in Monk's discography. I wonder about two possible tributes: "Dinah"'s lyrics refer to "Carolina" - could that be James P., yet again, whose own "Carolina Shout" and "Carolina Balmoral" are key stride pieces? "Dinah" does lead off Solo Monk; I can see Monk saying, "Just to be clear, this is for James P." Also, the closing trill: Monk almost never trills otherwise, but he can't seem to stop himself from ringing that bell at the end of several striding tracks on this disc. Is that a hat tip to Fats Waller, who constantly trilled too?
Reviewer: Ethan Iverson