This is a little imaginary suite, dedicated to Thelonious Monk’s paraphrase of Irving Berlin’s “BLUE SKIES” (clickety-click on the title to hear one of the earliest renditions, performed by Ben Selvin’s Knickerbockers, 1927).
Anyway, the tune could have remained a novelty bitty-ditty, a one-day-wonder, if its jazz qualities hadn’t been detected soon by numerous swing & jazz musicians in the 1930’s and ’40’s.
Let’s begin with one of the first boppish arrangements, whose introduction sounds already as it would belong to a Monk tune: “BLUE SKIES”.
It’s not Thelonious at the piano, but his greatest female influence, Mary Lou Williams, the famous pianist, composer and arranger of tunes like “ROLL ‘EM”, “WALKIN’ AND SWINGING”, “LITTLE JOE FROM CHICAGO”, or “ZONKY”.
This particular rendition stems from her legendary sessions for “Asch Records” (later “Folkways”), founded by Moses Asch, and featuring mostly folk music.
Mary Lou Williams (p) Bill Coleman (tp) Al Hall (b) – August 10, 1944.
And then Bud walked in, on November 21 in 1947 (OK, we know only this date, but – as in the case of “‘Round Midnight” (ca. 1939) – it could have been written some years earlier); this is its very first recording, featuring George Taitt (tp) Sahib Shihab (as) Thelonious Monk (p) Bob Paige (b) Art Blakey (d) – WOR Studios, NYC:
You don’t want to miss this great tune, as performed by the Thelonious Monk Quartet in a tiny little jazz club, named “Five Spot”, do you?
— Well, you needn’t:
Johnny Griffin (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Ahmed Abdul-Malik (b) Roy Haynes (d) – “Five Spot”, NYC, on July 9 and August 7, 1958.
But what would a great melody be without lyrics, without a fabulous story attached? — Here we go with Jon Hendricks, telling his famous tale about Dizzy, and Monk, and then “suddenly in walked Bud, and then they got into something.” — And yeah, they surely did!
Thelonious Monk (p) Larry Gales (b) Ben Riley (d) Jon Hendricks (voc) – Recorded for “Underground – Thelonious Monk” (sporting one of the most bizarre of all LP-covers), NYC, February 14, 1968.
And here we go with my two cents I would like to add as humbly as possible. It’s a reference, just a little Monkish melody that came to my mind in December 2014; and it has not much to do with “IN WALKED BUD”, more with “LITTLE ROOTIE TOOTIE”.
Since I’m not a pianist in the first place, please don’t mind me, hitting some clinkers ;)
Maybe Monk wouldn’t have walked out, but “WHO KNOWS”, as he always said? Anyway, Thelonious was and is always welcome; I’ve let him walk in ’round 32 years ago. And he is still a great inspiration up to this very day <3
Blog owner’s kind advice: For reading along the tune, feel free to click on the score; it will open in a new window.