Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Playing on the radio and a new old Monk album

Playing right now: Thelonious Monk - Monk in Europe
I never knew that this was an album that Riverside released while Monk was still under contract with them. I saw the title once or twice and figured it was just another in the unending pile of live recordings of Monk + Charlie Rouse + whatever rhythm section that came out years later. It popped up on eBay and after it was relisted in an auction for the third time I made sure I didn't forget to place a bid on it. I figured I'd buy it to be a completist with regard to all the Riverside albums. I still don't have Monk in Italy or Two Hours with Thelonious Monk the latter which I always swore was just a compilation, but I might get them someday.

This finally arrived in the mail last week and it turns out that it's pretty good. John Ore is the bassist and despite the fact that he went on to play with Sun Ra, he's usually considered pretty unadventurous with Monk, playing solos that are basically continuations of what he does behind the soloists. That's pretty true here, but he throws in some nice double-stops during the solos to offer a little variety. Frankie Dunlop is the drummer and he swings pretty hard during his solos.

As for Monk and Rouse, they both throw down some of their classic licks, but they both sound pretty inspired. Finally, a lot of these albums are intriguing because they include a tune or two that Monk rarely played beyond a studio session or two. On this album, the song in question is "Off Minor," which is one of my favorites. Wonderful melody and some great soloing here.

Once again, it's taken me five days to dispatch a report on the Love Letters' most recent performance. But with all the snow here (21" over the weekend and more falling as I type) and the cancelled daycare days and the subsequent baby wrangling - plus a bit of anxiety that I feel over dealing with the snow as a driver - only now am I able to fire off an entry on the show. (I changed my work schedule, so I have tomorrow off and I'm enjoying a second drink for the evening in celebration.)

So the Love Letters played on WRCT-FM last Thursday for the Live Show performance. I listened back to the recording and overall I suppose it went pretty well. But there were some things working against us. One of them was the monitor which proceeded to feedback anytime we weren't playing music and then a few times while we were playing. It kind of baffles me that these folks - nice as they are - can't use all their experience to figure out a way to give us a halfway decent vocal mix in the monitor without feedback. I've played in that studio several times and it never works.

Then there's my voice. I thought I could hear myself alright but I still veer off pitch quite a bit. I think I go sharp, but I'm not sure. If I was flat at least it might sound like I was going for a flat-seventh sound, I think. And I just sound warbly. One or two songs made me wince. Thankfully the songs that work at the higher part of my register came off pretty well. The ones where I barked a little more, not so cool.

We're practicing on Friday for our Rock and Bowl show next week at Arsenal Lanes. I think we'll have more time than usual to practice which will be cool. Or at least we will if we're able to get through the streets and get to Aimee's house.

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