Thelonious Monk Quartet – Live In Bern – 1961 – Past Daily Downbeat
Sometimes, in the world of Moments Historic, all the elements conspire to create the perfect concert – the defining moment – the memory which lives on forever. And then there are those times when one element or another falls down on the job and the historic moment is tarnished, made dim or obscured by elements beyond your control; one of those “You-kind-of-had-to-be-there” moments you often hear about.
This is one of those concerts that would have been perfect had all the elements cooperated for at least an hour, that May of 1961. This is prime Monk – essential Monk – Monk that justifies the proclamations he was/is the Genius of Modern Music.
If only the radio cooperated, and maybe if the person on hand at the time, with the presence of mind to capture it on tape had lived a bit closer – it wouldn’t sound as if it were recorded on another planet.
Sure the sound is listenable – quite good in places. But overall it’s a shame this broadcast didn’t benefit from a better and more clear signal. Those are the risks you run, when you don’t want to miss the magic moment.
Beyond all that – this was a wonderful concert – and maybe I’m complaining too much about the sound. But it’s always been my goal to present history in the best possible way, under the best possible conditions. There is the nostalgia factor, but there is also the aspect of being turned on to something you may not be familiar with – and it’s crucial that your experience is a profound one, not one made up of distractions.
Monk aficionados can be forgiving, knowing the importance of the gig. Those of you just getting familiar with the music of Thelonious Monk might want to use this concert as a stepping off place – a concert that sparks interest to hear and find out more.
Whatever you do – know that Monk was an important and essential figure in the on-going development of Jazz and everything he did is worthy of at least a listen.