Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12th, 2014 - Brother Thelonious Monk's Dream

"And now for something completely different!"  So, for those of you that have been following me for a while now know that I am a complete and utter metal head/hard rocker/proggy/'70s glam/punk/bluesy sonnuvabitch.  However, what you may not know is that I also have an affinity for 1950s-60s-70s bop and avante garde jazz.  So to switch things up a bit, I thought I'd end the evening with Thelonious Monk's "Monks Dream" and a Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abby Ale from North Coast Brewing Company!  Although not a drinker, this pairing is dedicated to my good buddy and jazz educator Jared!  Cheers brotha!!  This is also for my father, a HUGE jazz fan in his own right!!

Recorded on Halloween, October 31, 1962 and released in 1963, "Monk's Dream" is one of the ultimate GIANTS of jazz recordings!  Monk of course is The Man on the piano and one of America's greatest composers!  Charlie Rouse provides the breathtaking tenor saxophone playing, John Ore provides the upright bass ingenuity, and Frankie Dunlop provides the swingin' drums!  The title track, "Monk's Dream" is remarkable piece... breathtakingly complex and full of dissonant harmonies, sometimes bizarre melodic changes, and Monk's characteristic, but always dramatic use of perfectly timed silences and intentional hesitations and just fucking brilliant improvisation!  "Monk's Dream" (the album) combines traditional jazz, bop, and Thelonious' own genius.  There is an unquestionable, immeasurable amount of soul, "spirituality," passion, and honesty on this album.  The saxophone work on "Bright Mississippi" alone is enough to slay the harshest critic.  The works of "Five Spot Blues," "Bollivar Blues," the upbeat "Bye-Ya" and the slower "Sweet And Lonely" are also masterpieces of swing with the same complexity, depth of character, and brilliance as the previous tracks!  Monk's mind-blowing piano work and composition throughout the album is quite simply (and I admit, overused) genius!  I'm not a religious man, but if there is a god, he lived in the finger tips of Thelonious Monk (along with John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Charles Mingus)!!

Yes, it is the obvious choice, but in terms of character, it fits!  This beer is THE beer for this album!  Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abby Ale is part of the American Artisan Series from North Coast Brewing Company.  It pours an opaque, Tootsie Roll-mahogany in a frosty schooner with a thick, 2-finger mocha head.  The nose is sweet and almost chalky.  There are big notes of pink bubble gum and sweet, over-ripe banana or plantain, as well as vanilla and Caribbean rum.  Unlike the nose, the flavor is much sharper and richer.  There are complex notes of dark fruits (raisin, plum, dates, and figs), soft banana, smooth vanilla, exotic spices (coriander, clove, nutmeg, and a hint of cinnamon and white pepper) and cocoa.  Like Monk's work, the danger with each swig of this beer is that it is a much bigger swallow than you realized initially.  At 9.4% ABV, the sweetness and richness overpowers the booziness, which can be dangerous if you don't pace yourself!  But it so very well compliments the genius of "Monk's Dream"!!

Keep it swingin' you crazy cats... cheers and good night from the Meista!!  I leave you with a quote from the master himself, Mr. Monk: "Where’s jazz going? I don’t know? Maybe it’s going to hell. You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens."

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