Benny Green Trio Presents 'Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh' On JazzSet The trio presents Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh at the KC Jazz Club with Gary Smulyan.

Benny Green. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of the artist

Benny Green.

Courtesy of the artist

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Benny Green Trio On JazzSetWBGO

Benny Green Trio On JazzSet

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/149627190/163919557" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The pioneering pianist Thelonious Monk left behind a treasure trove of compositions. Onstage at the KC Jazz Club at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., a current jazz treasure is here to play some of the best. Benny Green is on piano with Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Baritone sax man Gary Smulyan joins the festivities a little later on Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh.

Known as "The High Priest of Bebop" — so named by Lorraine Lion of the Blue Note label, now Lorraine Gordon of the Village Vanguard, as reported in Robin D.G. Kelley's biography, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original — Monk helped create the revolutionary style in late-night jam sessions at clubs like Minton's Playhouse in Harlem. His compositions were cornerstones of the new sound and his influence was pervasive, but the man remained relatively obscure until he signed with Columbia Records in 1962 and recorded Monk's Dream, his biggest-selling album. In 1964, Monk found himself on the cover of Time magazine.

Not long after, Bert Green, a tenor saxophonist and sculptor, played the title tune for his son in the garage of their family home in Berkeley, Calif. It was the first music Benny Green ever heard, and Monk became the younger Green's primary musical influence.

Benny Green turned out to be a prodigy on piano, studying classical music from age 7 and jazz in Berkeley High School's widely respected program. In 1982, he moved to New York City, proving and improving himself in the Betty Carter Trio, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and, in the mid 1990s, the Ray Brown Trio. In 1994, selected by Oscar Peterson, Green won the Glenn Gould Protégé Prize.

Green uses his whole body to get the sound he wants out of the piano and from Monk's music — the rhythmic energy, the quirky yet logical melodies, the humor. Peter Washington's strong bass playing and Kenny Washington's dynamics and perfectly even snare rolls complement Gary Smulyan's stamina and musicality on the big horn. Smulyan is the winner of the annual DownBeat and JazzTimes polls, as well as the Jazz Journalists Association Baritone Saxophonist of the Year, every year. At a recent Detroit Jazz Festival, Smulyan was blowing hard on the Waterfront Stage when a riverboat passed by. The whistle blew, and he matched it in pitch and force — a moment we captured on JazzSet.

Set List
  • "Monk's Dream"
  • "Thelonious"
  • "Jackie-ing"
  • "Trinkle Tinkle"
  • "Let's Call This"
  • "Five Spot Blues"
  • "We See"
  • "Nutty"

All selections by Thelonious Monk.

Credits

Recording by Greg Hartman and Christian Amonson. Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Pat Metheny. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Pat Metheny On Piano Jazz

On this episode, The Pat Metheny Trio, which includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez, performs an exclusive version of "Go Get It" and "Bright Size Life."

Pat Metheny On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/649963580/649988817" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Ingrid Hertfelder/Courtesy of the artist

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

Hear Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Michel Camilo demonstrate his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance and post-bop Latin rhythms.

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/647914078/647930411" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Soprano Eileen Farrell Erich Auerbach/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Erich Auerbach/Getty Images

Eileen Farrell On Piano Jazz

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1993, she shares her tremendous vocal range on "How High the Moon" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning."

Eileen Farrell On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/645639983/645646714" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Peter Symes/Redferns

Gene Harris On Piano Jazz

On this 1988 Piano Jazz episode, Harris opens with a slow and easy "Black and Blue," then McPartland joins him on "Bag's Groove."

Gene Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/643301657/643308374" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Stefon Harris Elizabeth Leitzell/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Elizabeth Leitzell/Courtesy of the artist

Stefon Harris On Piano Jazz

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba.

Stefon Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/639381859/639391660" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jess Stacy is featured on this week's episode of Piano Jazz William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

As one of the leading pianists of the swing era, Stacy was best known for his work with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and had a prolific career before stepping back from the music world in the 1950's.

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/637110919/637149734" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

The iconic vocalist makes an appearance on 'Piano Jazz' and shares his inspirations.

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/632750594/632767944" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top