Monk program: Misha Mengelberg, piano; Sean Bergin, alto saxophone; Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone; Michael Moore, alto saxophone; Wolter Wierbos, trombone; Garret List, trombone; Maurice Horsthuis, viola; Ernst Reijseger, cello; Toon de Gouw, trumpet; Paul Termos, alto saxophone; Larry Fishkind, tuba; Han Bennink, percussion.
Nichols program: Misha Mengelberg, piano; Ab Baars, soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet; Michael Moore, alto saxophone, clarinet; Wolter Wierbos, trombone; George Lewis, trombone (track 6 only); Maurice Horsthuis, viola; Ernst Reijseger, cello; Han Bennink, percussion
1. four in one (4:36)
2. epistrophy (4:04)
3. round midnight (5:11)
4. hornin' in (3:23)
5. 52+ (6:27)
6. misterioso (7:29)
7. criss cross (4:59)
8. houseparty starting (7:49)
9. change of season (5:01)
10. 2300 skidoo (7:01)
11.hangover triangle (5:58)
12. step tempest (4:42)
arrangements by misha mengleberg
photos: francis wolff/pieter boesma
recordings: dick lucas/misha mengelberg
cover design: han bennink
Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols lived in New York. They knew each other and although they had no apparent close relationship there was certainly a measure of a mutual empathy.
There were in 1953, to pick a year, at least some circumstantial similarities that gave grounds for conversation. They were both in their early thirties, strapped for cash but not out on the street, they played their own uncompromising piano style and met with mediocre success. Their roles in New York jazz did not suggest that people would ever refer to them in any other way than:
“That Monk can scarcely play the piano but he has written one very beautiful tune, even Miles plays it”, or Herbie Nichols, “fantastic dixieland player. Could he be related to Red?”
Meanwhile in 1953, I was playing boogie woogie at school dances and at night, under the sheets, listened to the American Forces Network in Europe. There was once even a record of Thelonious Monk played, disturbing sounds (Humph?!) that reminded me of “Fireworks” by my hero at the time, Igor Strawinsky.
In those years, by the way, there were quite a lot of fireworks in the air. Were those majestic smoke clouds from the Nevada fireworks the messengers of the disease that 10 years later would do Herbie Nichols in?
The music on this disc, entirely along the lines of the restorative 80’s, is the result of two programs: the first devoted to Nichols, the following to Monk. Against better judgment, my hope is that the recordings do not sound too second-hand, if not only due to the fact of the uninhibited treatment of the material by my fellow musicians. - Misha Mengelberg