Monk Live at The Blackhawk (1960)

Selection Youtube


Joe Gordon (tp) Harold Land, Charlie Rouse (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) John Ore (b) Billy Higgins (d) recorded “The Blackhawk”, San Francisco, CA, April 29, 1960


East Coast meets West Coast for a session of high energy bop at San Francisco’s Blackhawk.  Monk is spurred to play more in the groove by the hepcat audience, and his standard quartet featuring Charlie Rouse on tenor is augmented by another tenor, Harold Land, the most East-Coast of the West Coast tenors, and Joe Gordon on trumpet. Land is a more abrasive and hard-edge player than the lauded voice of LA, Art Pepper, and under-rated in my view. Land as leader has excellent work on the superbly pressed US Contemporary label.

Side two boasts classic Monk tunes in “Round about Midnight” and “Epistrophy” in an enthusiastic performance..

Vinyl: Riverside RLP 12-323 UK release

The pressing is UK  1st release on Riverside “blue reels” label, which rarely disappoint, with crisp bright top end and full punchy midrange and bass. The cover is in lovely condition – more than can be said of the  grooves, very dusty to judge by the clogged stylus after only a few tracks, badly in need of a trip to the indispensable RCM car wash.

11 thoughts on “Monk Live at The Blackhawk (1960)

  1. Pingback: Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk - RVJ []

  2. This record appears to have been released simultaneously in mono and stereo. Does anyone know how it was recorded? Or put another way, is the stereo version some kind od ‘fake stereo’?



    • That’s easy, Chris: The stereo version is real stereo. Riverside fake stereo records (such as one version of Brilliant Corners) do exist, but according to Orrin Keepnews himself they are “very rare items”.


  3. LJC, Last night I played Monk’s Town Hall concert and then moved on to this… My God, I haven’t played Blackhawk in several years – what a fine record it is, and how under-rated it generally is, too. Even Cook & Morton I recall say something along the lines of “only for Monk devotees”…


    • The strange thing about the Internet is that a search for a bit of extra info can reveal when one last played a record — as above. Cook and Morton do indeed say “Not much here for anyone but a devoted Monkian”, but on reflection I’m not sure they’re talking about the same record as the above. Anyway, whatever the case, this is a great Monk record — what of the nicest with multiple horns, I reckon, with terrific versions of some Monk classics, including ROUND MIDNIGHT splendidly done.


  4. Charlie Rouse blends perfectly with Monk. But it’s nice to hear these other tenor players. I also loved Mulligan Meets Monk. Unlike what the so-called experts, Mulligan’s baritone fits nicely as well. And yes he does keep up.


  5. Its a question of taste, I guess. I really like Rouse – first I came across him was on one of my holy grail never-seen-in-the-flesh albums “Soul Mates” with Sahib Shihab. Rare as hens teeth due to Sahib-worship among certain DJ-types. I only have the CD but absolutely love it. But then I really don’t get on with Archie Shepp – too baaaad. Jazz is a “big tent”, room for many tastes.


  6. any time the high priest of bop called sax players other than Charlie Rouse I’ve been happy.
    monk’s music, in the decades, changed very little. the real difference were the few tenors as Land or Rollins.
    I don’t know why but I never liked Rouse.


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