On July 31st, Impulse! Records will release ‘Palo Alto,’ the first commercial release of a Thelonious Monk concert recorded in California during the autumn of 1968.
The recording boasts an intriguing back-story: the concert was the brainchild of a sixteen-year-old schoolboy, Danny Scher, who persuaded the maverick pianist/composer to bring his quartet to his school in Palo Alto on Sunday 27th October 1968 and play a benefit concert to raise funds for his school and help promote racial harmony. Miraculously, and despite a few hiccups along the way, everything eventually fell into place and the concert went ahead, proving a huge success.
Accompanying the pianist is his familiar sidekick, tenor saxophonist, Charlie Rouse, along with bassist Larry Gales and drummer, Ben Riley, who serve up stunning versions of the Monk favourites ‘Epistrophy’ – available as a single ahead of the album – ‘Well, You Needn’t,’ ‘Blue Monk’ and ‘Ruby My Dear’ as well as the standards, ‘Don’t Blame Me,’ (rendered as a solo piano piece) and ‘I Love You (Sweetheart Of My Dreams),’ all delivered in Monk’s inimitable style.
“It was a total pleasure,” recalls Scher, who idolised the pianist, then 51. “I loved Monk, I loved his music, and I loved producing. It was great seeing Monk dancing around the stage and then coming back to the piano when it was the right time.”
‘Palo Alto’ by Thelonious Monk is released on July 31st and is available on CD and vinyl as well as Digital Streaming Platforms.