Thelonius Monk, Alone in San Francisco: a critical review
Thelonious Monk does not simply play the piano–he lives through it. The instrument is an extension of himself Each note Monk plays is a cathartic expression of emotion–love, loss, pain, anguish–all conspiring with the virtuoso’s grunts and mumbles to create a sound world unique to the mysterious jazz master, an auditory experience impossible to replicate and impossible to ignore. Monk’s raw, visceral, and powerful presence at the keyboard comes across regardless of ensemble and setting; however, it is perhaps best understood in the context of a solo performance–Monk, a piano, no boundaries, and no inhibitions. It is exactly this musical gift that the lucky individual who ascertains a copy of Monk’s CD Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (Riverside Records, matrix number 0JCCD-231 S3801L) can find him or herself in company with, and such a treasure should be savored for the unique opportunity to listen to one of the masters of America’s greatest export in conversation with himself.