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Carmen Sings Monk
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel includes: Carmen McRae (vocals); Clifford Jordan (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone); Eric Gunnison, Larry Willis (piano); George Mraz (bass); Al Foster (drums).
  • Producer: Larry Clothier.
  • Reissue producer: Ben Young.
  • Recorded at Clinton Studios, New York, New York on April 12 & 13, 1988. Originally released on Novus Records. Includes liner notes by Linda Dahl and Stuart Troup.
  • All tracks have been digitally remastered.
  • This is part of Bluebird's First Editions series.
  • Tributee: Thelonious Monk.
  • Carmen McRae, a good friend of Thelonious Monk, sang 13 of his songs (two of which are also heard in different live versions) on this memorable project. Half of the lyrics are by Jon Hendricks, while the remainder were written by Abbey Lincoln ("Blue Monk"), Bernie Hanighen, Sally Swisher, or Mike Ferro. On all but the two concert performances, McRae is assisted by tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Al Foster; Mraz's solos are particularly impressive, although everyone is in sensitive form. The live recordings give listeners two more chances to acknowledge the uniqueness of tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse's tone. As for McRae, her phrasing has rarely sounded better than on this classic set, and it is a particular pleasure to hear her interpret the intelligent lyrics and unusual melodies. "Dear Ruby" ("Ruby, My Dear") and "Listen to Monk" ("Rhythm-A-Ning") are among the high points of the essential and very delightful CD. An inspired idea and one of the best recordings of Carmen McRae's career. ~ Scott Yanow
Professional Reviews
Down Beat (8/90) - 5 Stars - Excellent - "..Carmen, who has always sung with the passion of absolute certainty, has put Monk on a new map."
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