13 March 2010

One Brilliant Corner

There was blood and a single gunshot,
but just who shot whom?

— Barry Manilow (in a parallel universe in which pop song writers exult in the joys of grammar)

Listening to a lot of Thelonious Monk lately. And why?

Mostly, just because I like the music, the verve, the scoring, the nimbleness.

The occasion, though, was seeing a book of the title Straight from the Fridge, Dad, a lexicon of 50s slang. I had actually worked out that the title was an elaboration of cool before I looked into the book to check; but on checking, my eye fell upon the phrase which followed: Straight, no chaser. In this book, the editor appends an instance of the phrase’s use after its definition . . . and the reference for Straight, no chaser was a 1959 recording by . . . I forget just whom, but not Monk. In the spirit of proper attribution, I was curious to find out when Monk had composed the tune (for I was even then sure it must be his), and he recorded it as early as 1951.

Anyway, that’s the story of the catalyst of the sudden spike in Thelonious Monk listening.

And now, for some Schnittke . . . .

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