JazzNights is a series of house concerts begun in 2002 by Mary Wisnovsky and Maitland Jones. Over the years, we have hosted some of the best jazz musicians in the world. We would be pleased to have you join us; just browse the website and contact us if you are interested. Reservations by email to: mary@wisnovsky.net or mjjr@princeton.edu

Leslie Pintchik, Scott Hardy, and Michael Sarin at  JazzNights  83

Leslie Pintchik, Scott Hardy, and Michael Sarin at JazzNights 83


Upcoming:

JazzNights 93, September 29, 2019, 2 pm

MONK’S DREAMS

  On Sunday, September 29, 2019, JazzNights will present the Monk Project, a quartet led by pianist Frank Kimbrough. His worthy constituents will be Scott Robinson, Billy Drummond, and Rufus Reid. The event will be held at 2 pm at the Hockaday/Jones barn at 78 Moores Mill Mt. Rose Road in Hopewell. Please note the unusual time! Directions are posted on our website. We are asking for a contribution of $55 per person. Please email your reservation to mary@wisnovsky.net or simply reply to this message at your earliest convenience.

In an effort to save paper and mailing expense, as well to give us an idea of attendance numbers sooner rather than later, we ask those of you who email responses to write out a check payable to Mary Wisnovsky for the appropriate amount ($55 per person) and mail it to her at 33 Otter Creek Road, Skillman, NJ 08558.

Note: If you reserve now but later find that you can't make it, please let us know right away. We often have a waiting list and can use the space, sometimes even at the last moment. We try to keep the costs as low as possible and "no-shows" inevitably raise the price to others in the future.

And, if it is wet, Please be careful parking. There has been a lot of damage lately.

Many of you know that I co-produced “Monk’s Dreams” the Kimbrough Quartet’s six-CD compendium of the complete works of Thelonious Sphere Monk. It has received great reviews and made many “Best of the Year” lists, in some cases being cited as the best of the year. They will play some of Monk’s tunes this September at JazzNights 93. In lieu of the usual writeup, I will append a slightly edited version of my essay from the liner notes.

Two dates are important to this project, one imprecise and long ago, the other recent and pinned down almost to the minute. Sometime, probably in the fall of 1957, when I was an undergraduate in New Haven, I found myself traveling to New York on weekends to hear jazz. Jazz was a recent passion of mine, but has persisted for well over half a century to brighten my life immeasurably. Many of those evenings in New York have faded from my memory, but one surely has not: several times I heard Monk at the Five Spot in Cooper Square. I can’t pin the times down perfectly, but I know that at least once I heard him with Coltrane, and I know that the bassist was Ahmed Abdul-Malik, who replaced Wilbur Ware in August of 1957. So, at least some of my visits were in the fall of 1957. I was too musically unsophisticated to know what I was hearing – the stuff of legends now. I did not see – or hear – Monk for the genius he was. I suspect that I bought into the stereotypical and unfair view of Monk as the weird, eccentric “high priest of bebop.” He did always wear a hat, he did dance at the edge of the piano when others were soloing, and he did wander into the kitchen on occasion to return later – or not. I have learned more about Monk and jazz over the years and if there is one thing I could redo in my life, it would be, even at the high price of being 20 again, to relive those visits, to pay real attention and to better experience those magical nights. Over the ensuing 50 or 60 years, I have become one of the “regulars” in the ever-changing set of jazz clubs in New York, which leads to the second of those two dates – October 17, 2017 at the Jazz Standard. There Frank Kimbrough, Rufus Reid, Scott Robinson, and Billy Drummond were doing an evening of Monk tunes in honor of what would have been Monk’s 100th birthday, exactly a week earlier. Not surprisingly, the music was spectacular - Monk-like but fresh, respectful of history, but in the current moment. I knew all these gentlemen because each had each played in a series of jazz concerts held in my house in New Jersey. In particular, Frank had graced those evenings many times. So, after the rst set, I screwed up my courage (if not now, when?) and asked Frank whether he would consider recording all 70 of Monk’s tunes. Somewhat to my surprise, his response was not, “Are you crazy?” but, something like, “Well, let’s think about it.” So we did, and here it is! A project of this magnitude doesn’t happen all by itself. Of course the major credit goes to the musicians, who, to my ear, have remained true to the brilliance of Monk while injecting not only the current times, but remarkable innovations. I bet that Reections has never been played on a bass saxophone before – and it is perfect for the tune. And a contrabass sarrusophone on Misterioso? Not in Monk’s days, but here? Just right. These four musicians do the famous up-tempo Monk tunes with panache, bring new insight to the lesser-known tunes, and do Monk’s great ballads with special intensity and emotional insight. Certainly as a group, no one has done the slow tunes as well. Touches of humor abound, and I think Monk would have loved that. Two other people deserve special mention, for they are as responsible for this work as I. Dr. Dorothy Lieberman, another jazz head, and another regular on the club scene, has also supported this project, and Matt Balitsaris, genius engineer and Czar of Maggie’s Farm, has not only contributed technical skill “beyond” but supported this project in many other ways. We would not have got here without him. This project has been a blast for all of us involved – I am sure you will feel the same way as you work through these gorgeous 70 tunes, each dreamed up by a true American genius.

MJ

Monk’s Dreams, Sunnyside SSC, 4032, 2018

“This is an artistic coup and a musical masterstroke from one of jazz's premier pianists.”

Dan Bilowsky, JazzTimes

"arguably one of the most ambitious and significant releases of

2018.... fresh, varied and inspired." Jazziz

“delightful throughout...you'll come away with an even greater appreciation of Thelonious Monk and be blown away by the brilliant musicianship!” Richard Kamins, Step Tempest blog

“This quartet has recorded the gold standard of Thelonious Monk’s music.” Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition

“impressive...a devoted and respectful homage...laden with moments of subtle reinvention.” Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times