Thursday, July 28, 2005


Thelonious Monk, Little Rootie Tootie.

There are more dramatic Monk recordings, those more influential, more disturbing, more historically significant. But I don’t think there are any more fun than this one. Ira Gitler called it “a sort of train song, with Monk even punctuating to represent the whistle.”

“Rootie Tootie” comes from a brief interval in Monk’s career, between the Blue Note recordings that established his name among musicians and the Riverside albums that did the same among listeners—in 1952 and 1954, Monk recorded a handful of excellent trio sessions, in which he debuted a number of compositions, including "Blue Monk" and "Bemsha Swing." Here he is joined by Gary Mapp on bass and one of his finest accompanists, the drummer Art Blakey.

Romp or no, "Rootie Tootie" is still Monk, so the piece's hook is three dissonant chords pounded out at the end of alternating bars, and Monk leads into the final chorus with a charming and silly rampage up and down the keyboard.

Recorded in New York City on October 15, 1952, along with “Sweet and Lovely”, "Bye-ya”, and "Monk’s Dream." Available on Thelonious Monk Trio, which collects the 1952 trio sessions as well as a solo Monk performance.

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