I’m not sure why I chose this photo for today. I took two other post-worthy pictures this morning, but when it came time to choose one…well I guess it came closest to what I was feeling. If I could really explain that, I would. I could make something up, such as the left side of the picture symbolizes nature while the left side symbolizes civilization, and the track in the middle symbolizes the path to sanity we must travel between the extremes. Yeah! That’s why I chose this picture!
I have to tell you that when I bought my first Thelonius Monk album, many years ago, it was pretty much because of his name and the picture of him on the cover. I had heard of him, and had heard covers of some of his music, but I hadn’t gone out of my way to buy anything. Then one day I found a few extra dollars in my wallet and decided it was time to try someone other than Dave Brubeck or Jimmy Smith, so I bought a “best of” Monk album. I became a fan as soon as I listened to it.
Each time I listen to Monk I hear something new. Today I was listening to Bemsha Swing and really paid attention to Monk and Charlie Rouse, the tenor sax player, as they played together. This version was recorded in Japan in 1963. I’m sure they had played the tune a ton of times before, and I know I have listened to many versions of the song, but today I heard two musicians be masters of their instruments as they mastered the song. It was great!
As I thought about Bemsha Swing it occurred to me that I had heard many covers of the song, but none played as well as the version I listened to this morning. I started thinking that I had a copy of The Turtle Island String Quartet playing it. When I dug out the cd to compare the two versions, I found to my surprise that they had not recorded Bemsha Swing. Why did I think they had? I noted that there was a version of Duke Ellington’s Caravan on the cd. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of, but that seemed wrong somehow. So, I looked in he data base I keep on my recorded music and found a version of the song recorded by Darol Anger, Richard Greene and Buell Neidlinger. Hmmm…Darol Anger…one of the founding members of The Turtle Island String Quartet. There was the connection. My mind can do funny things.