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Jazz: Short and sweet from Monk and other stalwarts

THESE tracks, recorded 1947-1952, were originally released as 78 RPM singles, with the pianist leading trios, quartets, quintets and sextets. He had already perfected his spare, searching piano style, and several of his most famous tunes are here. Interspersed with the original compositions are songs by George Gershwin, Vernon Duke and Ann Ronnell.

Stalwarts of the New York bop scene, such as Art Blakey, Kenny Dorham and Lou Donaldson, are featured alongside forgotten colleagues like George Taitt (trumpet) and Billy Smith (tenor sax). Milt Jackson, already on his way to being the greatest vibes player, enhances numbers like Evidence and I Mean You. Sahib Shihab plays Parker-inspired alto sax, while Lucky Thompson contributes mellow tenor solos. Monk himself is showcased in trio numbers with Gene Ramey and Art Blakey. The tracks are short, because 78s ran to only about three minutes. This must have felt very limiting to musicians who were used to expanding their ideas in jazz clubs, but it's interesting to hear how they rise to the challenge of being concise.

THE international trio Phronesis begins a six-day tour of Ireland next Wednesday in the Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge. Jasper Hoiby (double bass), Ivo Neame (piano) and Anton Eger (drums) then go on to Cork on Thursday, Carrick-on-Shannon on Friday, Letterkenny on Saturday; Whelan's, Dublin, next Sunday and Castlebar on Monday February 9.

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