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Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners (1957)

October 11, 2017


What an opening 3 seconds

[Album 571/1001]

There’s a park in Napanee, new in 2017, named Rotary Park.

Though I am not being compensated in any way by the Greater Napanee region for saying this, the park is fantastic.

There’s a swing on a roller coaster track, a splash pad, a couple of huge slides…we’ve made the 30 minute drive a few times and the kids really enjoy it.

In one corner of the park, in a particularly brilliant design feature, there’s a pair of xylophone/vibraphone-esque percussion instruments.

But instead of being noisy, the sound is somehow always somewhat muted, regardless of how aggressively the bars are struck by mallet-wielding youth.

And cleverly, they’ve designed this particular idiophone to always sound pleasing to the ear; semi-tones have been removed, regardless of the combination of notes, they inevitably sound nice together.

Which, for a public park, where the young musicians haven’t necessarily enrolled at the Juilliard yet, is a design feature the rest of the park patrons appreciate 99.99% of the time.

Except of course, on the rare occasion when an aspiring park musician tries to recreate that delicious dissonance from the opening notes of Brilliant Corners.

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It’s just not the same without the dissonance

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I love a good cringe-worthy note.

The chorus of Joni Mitchell’s My Old Man.

The third note in the original Nine Inch Nails version of Hurt.220px-BrilliantCornersTheloniousMonk

The opening few seconds of Brilliant Corners.

Talk about immediately getting my undivided attention!

Now, of course, I still had to dutifully listen to the full album a couple of times.

But it was more just to confirm what I already knew that I liked about Thelonious Monk.

He had me at the opening dissonance.

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Fantastic playground!*

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…..

Verbalize the Positive

One of my friends (and weekly quiz participant) Brian helped design the aforementioned Napanne park. Well designed Brian!

*And I’d be doing a disservice to my students if I didn’t acknowledge the “highlight reel” nature of this video. I chose to document & share the playground fun, rather than documenting & sharing the tantrums & fussing from earlier that afternoon. So the clips are unrepresentative of the full day, absolutely, but the swing was just too fantastic to go un-shared 😀

 

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From → 1950s

13 Comments
  1. I still haven’t heard this one. High on the list, but sometimes it’s difficult to find records like this in the wild in Glasgow. Sake.

    And yeah, love some dissonance in a tune too. Probably what I love most about piano.

    • I tracked this one down at the public library – I’ve yet to see it available for purchase, but was pleasantly surprised to find it available for borrowing!

  2. What a swing! And what an album! I want to play both, but only one is accessible at present.
    Enjoy Brilliant Corners, Geoff. It’s all there in the title.

    • Should you find yourself in Napanee, Ontario, Bruce I can’t recommend the swing highly enough!
      In the meantime, yes, Brilliant Corners will have to suffice, and fortunately, it’s equally recommendable!

  3. I’m excited about this one. My jazz knowledge is limited but I’m led to believe that he is one of the innovative and inspirational of them all.

    • I quite liked this one – I’m definitely not a jazz aficionado either, but there was something about Brilliant Corners that was right up my street!

  4. I’ve never heard this, although I love me some TM dearly. I’m saving my cash for ‘Geoff: No Sleep ‘Til Napanee’

  5. Our big park in our town has a steel drum that kids hit with sticks (because the mallets are long gone after all these years), and a series of varying-sized metal tubes in chains that kids can pull on like harp strings. It makes a helluva racket but it mostly just sounds like chains. That swing is cool, though.

    As for Brilliant Corners, I don’t own it. Clearly, that’s an oversight.

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