Live album of Thelonious Monk 1968 high school concert to be released

What happened when the jazz icon heeded the call of a 16-year-old Palo Alto student.

Next month, Impulse! Records will release the Thelonious Monk live album Palo Alto: an unearthed recording of a high school concert the jazz icon played in 1968.

The 47-minute concert Monk played with his touring band Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone), Larry Gales (bass) and Ben Riley (drummer) at Palo Alto High School on October 27, 1968 was in some ways unprecedented and historic.

For one, the concert was booked by 16-year-old student Danny Scher, and it took place in a turbulent time in America: that year, the nation was rocked by the escalation of the Vietnam War in the form of the Tet Offensive, as well as the assassinations of Matin Luther King, Jr and Robert F. Kennedy.

“I always looked at music as a way to put issues on hold or up to a mirror, whether they be political or social,” Scher said in a statement. “On October 27, 1968, there was a truce between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. And that is what music does.”

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Monk’s unexpected concert at Palo Alto High School was recorded by the school’s janitor, and the tape sat in the attic of Scher’s family home for years. He contacted Monk’s son TS Monk to release it, and it will arrive on Impulse!—the label home on John Coltrane—on July 31.

Palo Alto comes a few years after another Monk live album was salvaged from tapes dumped into a skip and released under the title of Mønk in September 2018. Excitingly, this new album is reportedly the first of multiple planned joint releases from Impulse! and the Monk estate.

Preview the upcoming Monk live album with the recording of “Epistrophy” here:

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