Song of the Day: Thelonious Monk – “Straight, No Chaser”

Nine-day festival to celebrate Thelonious Monk in Birmingham, U.K., on June 12-20

Thelonious Monk, the visionary jazz pianists whose elegantly simple compositions and idiosyncratic harmonies made him one of the most important jazz artists in history, was born on this day in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1917. Throughout the late ’40s and early ’50s pianist, Monk recorded a series of sessions for Blue Note Records to be released as 78-rpm singles. They included the track “Straight, No Chaser,” which was put on wax on this day (July 23) in 1951. The song, a traditional blues with a wobbly melody that loops back on itself several times, has become one of Monk’s best-known compositions and a jam session favorite. This version comes from the 1991 compilation Thelonious Monk: The Best of the Blue Note Years. In addition to Monk, it features the great Milt Jackson on vibes, Sahib Shihab on saxophone, Al McKibbon on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Happy Birthday, Monk!

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