Orrin Keepnews on his first session with Thelonious Monk
NOW, A JAZZ MOMENT...
MUSIC: It Don?t Mean a Thing (Monk Plays Duke Ellington)
IN 1955, NEA JAZZ MASTER ORRIN KEEPNEWS MADE A LANDMARK RECORDING OF THELONIOUS MONK PLAYING THE MUSIC OF DUKE ELLINGTON. IT WAS MONK?S FIRST RECORDING WITH KEEPNEWS FOR THE RIVERSIDE LABEL, WHICH WOULD BECOME A SPRINGBOARD FOR WHAT MANY CONSIDER TO BE MONK?S MOST FRUITFUL PERIOD. THERE WAS A PERCEPTION THAT MONK?S MUSIC WAS TOO DIFFICULT FOR THE MAINSTREAM PUBLIC, SO ORRIN KEEPNEWS WANTED TO PRESENT HIM IN A NEW LIGHT...
Orrin Keepnews: One of the big strengths was that I didn?t really know what I was doing, so that I wasn?t frightened by the fact that I was recommending to him a course of action that was unlike anything he?d ever done before. Basically I said, what I?d like us to do is I want to do two albums, trio. Let?s get rid of those damn bebop horns, at least for the time being, and have you presented directly to the audience. And I would like you to work largely or entirely with standard material. And, I won?t even say to my great surprise, because I didn?t know enough about the man I was dealing with at that point to even be surprised by how easy it was for him to agree to do that!
MUSIC: up for punctuation, then fades under and out
THIS JAZZ MOMENT WITH PRODUCER ORRIN KEEPNEWS WAS CREATED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. I?M CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE.