Review - Monk In Paris: Live At The Olympia

Artist: Thelonious Monk


There's an old story that's long circulated about Thelonious Monk's wife Nellie walking into a jazz shop in lower Manhattan, eyeing a box of bootleg Monk records, glancing at the shop owner and then picking the records up and walking out of the store without paying. She claimed, on her way out, the music wasn't supposed to be sold. (This story, by the way, is widely attributed to Nellie, although many other artists have done exactly the same thing when they spot bootlegs of their material.) Nellie died 20 years after her husband, and it could be said that each of those days was spent solidifying Thelonious' legacy. Thelonious Records is the most outwardly tangible result of that effort, and after a few archival releases that came out on a limited basis, "Live At The Olympia" is the first to receive widespread distribution (via Joel Dorn's Hyena label). This widely bootlegged show from 1965 features Monk's long-dependable quartet of Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales and Ben Riley and, for those accustomed to years of hissy tape quality, this pristine presentation is a joy. A fairly typical set list -- "Well You Needn't," "Rhythm-a-Ning," "Epistrophy" -- is typically emboldened by Monk's busy right hand and a nearly telepathic band. The DVD that's included features three songs recorded a year later in Oslo, but the quality is negligible. Support the cause, baby. Nellie would love you for it.