Thelonious Monk - Palo Alto
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Unknown. Unheard. Until Now!
After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, racial tensions across the country rose. Palo Alto, a largely white college town in Cali, wasn't immune. Danny Scher, a junior at the high school, had a dream to have Thelonious Monk perform and help bring about racial unity the community while raising funds for the International Committee. After many twists and turns, the triumphantly successful concert eventually happened.
Monk, a pianist, was more than a decade past his most famous recordings and near the end of an unfruitful run at Columbia Records when his manager got the request from Mr. Scher. The jazz titan agreed to perform at the school on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1968. He was already scheduled to be in the area for a three-week stint at the Jazz Workshop, a club in San Francisco, so Mr. Scher had his older brother Les drive there and pick up the pianist and his band. There were no plans to preserve the one-off concert, but a school janitor asked Mr. Scher whether he could record the show if he tuned the piano.
Now, 52 years later, Impulse! Records and Legacy Recordings are releasing it as an album called “Palo Alto” that captures the 47-minute concert in full. The “Palo Alto” recording had collected dust in the attic of Mr. Scher’s family home until he contacted Monk’s son — the jazz drummer and bandleader T.S. Monk — about releasing it. Digitally restored and widely available for the first time on Friday, “Palo Alto” captures a band hitting a high note, even as Monk battled personal and professional turmoil.
Heavyweight vinyl pressed by Impluse! Records. Includes 2 booklets and a poster. Gatefold sleeve.