You've probably heard by now about the amazing CD released in 2005 featuring the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, a "lost" recording recently discovered in the Library or Congress. It's astounding, not only in the performance, but in the glossy sound quality - crystal sonic clarity after decades lost in the vaults.
The quartet was playing a benefit show at Carnegie Hall in 1957. And what's especially jarring about the CD is a reproduction of the poster for that show found in the liner notes:
Look at that lineup! Dizzy, Billie, Sonny, Chet and Zoot, Theo and Trane and Brother Ray all on the same ticket! It makes my head spin to consider that an America once existed where this sort of cultural miracle took place. Can there be any doubt that this poster serves to document the Night Civilization Peaked? Even while the beats and boppers were soaking in this glorious happening, Elvis was luring away the next generation with his siren hips, inspiring the hucksters and tastemakers of the pop culture empire to focus all their attention on free-spending teenagers for the next 50 years. As a result, the only music marketed to adult tastes these days are a handful of Streisand records and the Titanic soundtrack.
Long gone are the glory days of bop. And with it went the mid-century dream of modernization. Giddy Googie diners and Danish Modern interiors were soon replaced by Burger King and La-Z-Boys. Jackson Pollock and Ben Shawn were replaced by Jeff Coons and Hanna-Barbera. Rod Serling was replaced by Erkle. And it just gets worse.
So when November 29 rolls around this year, join this bitter old man in a toast to the Thanksgiving Jazz benefit of 1957. And hope that, by some fluke of fate, we may see another Monk in our lifetime.