Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Listen Or Die? #10 - Brilliant Corners...




Listen Or Die? Our weekly examination of the albums listed in the book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Must you hear them? We'll be the judge of that...


BRILLIANT CORNERS
by Thelonious Monk (1957)
Running Time: 43:08




1. Brilliant Corners
2. Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
3. Pannonica
4. I Surrender Dear
5. Bemsha Swing


While I know the man's name, I can't say I've ever taken the time to listen to Thelonious Monk. That all changes tonight as I listen to the jazz pianist and composer's album, Brilliant Corners. The idea of listening to another 50s instrumental music album isn't exactly making me scream, "BEST TUESDAY EVER," but open heart, open ears... que sera sera or something. Let's do this, so I can see if you should give it a listen as well or just wander through life thinking Thelonious Monk is the title character of the Tony Shalhoub television series, Monk. It's plausible. Do you know anyone who actually watched Monk


(Excuse me for forty-three minutes, as I listen to Brilliant Corners)


Now, I've made it no secret that 50s instrumental jazz holds no special place in my heart, but Thelonious Monk... his music might have slightly softened that once hard stance. Recording not with an orchestra like his contemporaries (Duke Ellington and Count Basie), but with a smaller jazz band spares the listener from being bombarded with too much at any given time and it works. It works quite well. You can focus your attention on Monk's brilliant piano work and single out Ernie Henry on the alto sax when listening to the album opener and title track, 'Brilliant Corners.' We're also treated to a piano solo from Monk on the album's most memorable track, the beautiful ballad 'I Surrender Dear.'


At just over thirteen minutes, you'd be forgiven for reaching for the skip button after reaching the halfway mark in 'Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba Lue-Are,' but getting to the downward mood-altering 'Pannonica' that follows is worth it. At times the 'Bemsha Swing' sounds like a big jam, by which I mean a bunch of muso's just doing whatever they feel like without any real sense of cohesion. However, these are minor negatives. The good outweighs the bad, three excellent tracks to two average ones and on that ratio I'd say you're good to give Brilliant Corners a LISTEN


The tally...


LISTEN - 4
DIE - 6 

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