Is this newly released, 96 page sheet music book reasonably consistent with Monk's recorded performances? Further, does conventional music notation accurately convey the rhythmic intricacies of Monk's music? Practicing musicians may wish to consider these issues when reviewing these 70 detailed scores, which have been painstakingly transcribed and/or re-constructed from the composer's original charts. Thankfully, Monk's highly advanced music has not been reduced to simplistic chord symbols. For that reason, this book is of high quality, and should be of particular interest to the advanced performer. The chromatic harmonic structures in "Oska T." have been masterfully reproduced in their entirety. Other high points include the charts for "Work" and "Trinkle Tinkle", which are entirely consistent with respective recordings by Steve Lacy ("Soprano Sax", OJC-130; P-7125), and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (OJC-039; J946). On the other hand, certain transcriptions appear flawed when compared to the recordings. A case in point is the rhythmic steeplechase, "Four in One". With regard to the "A" section of the tune, the underlying chord changes more closely approximate those used in the standard, "Just You, Just Me". The whole-tone phrase at bars 3 and 4 is in fact more rhythmically complex in Monk's recordings; see especially "The Complete Genius", Blue Note BN-LA579-H2, and "Thelonious Monk at The Blackhawk", Riverside OJCCD-305-2; RLP-1171).
by James D. Armstrong, Jr.
Editor, Music in Transition, Jazz Now
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, March 2002 issue, all rights reserved