Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thelonious Monk: "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (1971)

Monk's cover of this Gershwin standard comes from his last studio sessions, in 1971. It's a solo rendition; on a thing called The London Collection, Vol. 1, although I have it on the Monk volume of the Ken Burns Jazz series.

I love Monk. Don't claim to know a whole lot, musicologically speaking, but I know enough to know he's brilliant. Unfailingly melodic. What's more, he's - and here's a word I don't see applied to him, but it fits better than any other I can think of - funky. I mean, he has so solid a sense of the beat that he can make you feel it even harder by avoiding it: by skipping it entirely, or slipping off the edge of it, or coming down precisely three-quarters of an inch to the left of dead center of it. I hear a lot of New Orleans in Monk. Don't know why that should be.

Anyway, his version of "Nice Work If You Can Get It" is all that, plus a sweet take on a pretty melody. He usually played his own compositions, and with good reason, but what he does with this...

1 comment:

Daniel said...

The London Collection is pretty amazing. Love this track along with the version of Misterioso he does on it.