Identify Thelonius Monk tune

Does anyone know the title of the first tune they play here?

They play it again in another performance at 32:40 in the video.
Sounds to me like something older/simpler that they’re using as a vehicle for improvisation, and not an original composition of Monk.

In case the video won’t play for some of you, it’s the same quartet in two performances in 1966 in Denmark and Norway. The second performance, in Oslo, starts around 32:40 and kicks off with the same tune. There are other video versions on YouTube. At 50:25, there’s an absolutely brilliant rendition of “Don’t Blame Me.”

This mystery tune has been the holiday music in my head for the last few days.

I’ve been looking for a few days now, but I guess I should have looked a little more before posting. It’s “Lulu’s Back in Town,” apparently by Fats Waller in 1935.

Well, now that I’ve answered my own question, anyone have an opinion on the performances in that video?

I love Mel Tormé’s version of Lulu.


::holding up hand:: Monk freak, though, so - he can do no wrong, bascially.

He stood away form his piano to watch Charlie Rouse’s solo. Was that a “thing” of his, or of any of his contemporaries? Kinda cool, doing that - definitely shows respect / admiration for your fellow musician.

Glad you’re enjoying that. I’ve only recently starting listening to him and don’t know enough to answer your question. I think there’s another video in Poland the same year (66) and I’ve been told that the tour is the subject of at least one documentary. Parts of that video (Don’t Blame Me, at 50:25) are among the best I’ve seen or heard. I’d like to say more but there aren’t words. There’s a story about him not speaking to anyone during a tour…

Monk was an odd duck. He would often stand up and dance or wander around on stage when others were playing.

Thelonius was a product of his time. Highly experimental and improvisational combo jazz. Coltrane, Davis, Brubeck, all those guys.

Just now remembering a Monk doc that I unfortunately saw only part of, where he’s onstage, slowly walking round and round (and round!) in circles as his band played on. Also remember a slightly odd bus scene.

When you mention experiment and improvisation, wasn’t Brubeck way more mainstream than those others?

Dudes like Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler come more readily to my mind, for that.

(sure, slight derail)

Brubeck found a niche with college concerts, which was innovative for jazz groups at the time. He was able to promote his music to a wide, young audience that way, and a few catchy tunes (Take Five, Blue Rondo, etc.) with odd time signatures made him a crossover artist. But his group was only mainstream if compared to people like Monk, Coltrane and others who were really pushing the edges of jazz.

Fair point, as far as improvisation goes, but Brubeck was highly experimental. While the improvisers were stretching the possibilities of melody, Brubeck was expanding meter and harmony.

I’ve always liked that you can sometimes hear him vocalizing along with songs. It sounds completely unconscious, and it usually works well.

Oscar Peterson did that, as well, and loudly enough that it bothered vocalists.

Yeah, Peterson was particularly known for it. Also, in the classical realm, Glenn Gould was famous for it.

And Keith Jarrett…

Monk was definitely an oddball, more and more so as he got older.

But wandering off during someone else’s solo isn’t all that unusual in jazz. You can find plenty of clips of various small ensembles in the fifties and sixties where someone who isn’t soloing steps off and lights up a smoke, or goes to the side of the stage just to listen. The bassist and drummer couldn’t really get away with that, of course.

see also Errol Garner (not so much with the ‘usually works well’ bit !)