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

Catherine Russell on Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage/West Virginia Public Broadcasting hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Catherine Russell On Mountain Stage

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Making her fifth appearance on Mountain Stage since 2006, Grammy-winning vocalist Catherine Russell treated the audience to songs off her latest album, Alone Together.

Catherine Russell On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/763730543/763812516" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Gregory Porter Jonathan Chimene/Courtesy of Jazz At Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Jonathan Chimene/Courtesy of Jazz At Lincoln Center

Gregory Porter: Personal Stories For Universal Songs

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Host Christian McBride chats with singer-songwriter Gregory Porter about his journey as an ascendent talent.

Gregory Porter: Personal Stories For Universal Songs

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/762438826/762442657" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Aerial view of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. © Victor Diaz Lamich/Courtesy of Festival International de Jazz de Montreal hide caption

toggle caption © Victor Diaz Lamich/Courtesy of Festival International de Jazz de Montreal

A Toast To The Montreal International Jazz Festival At 40: Jazz, Blues & Much More

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

We celebrate 40 years of The Montreal International Jazz Festival with iconic performances and unique stories including Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Diana Krall, Oscar Peterson and Pat Metheny.

A Toast To The Montreal International Jazz Festival At 40: Jazz, Blues & Much More

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/759959062/760220956" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Miles and Betty Davis in color in Miles' New York westside brownstone, 1969 Baron Wolman hide caption

toggle caption Baron Wolman

Electric Miles: Behind The 'Brew'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

We celebrate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis going electric for Bitches Brew — part controversial, part revolutionary and as a whole, historic.

Electric Miles: Behind The 'Brew'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/751422609/751477610" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cannonball Adderley sits with his saxophone. JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

'The Black Messiah' And The Legacy Of Cannonball Adderley

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight. Revisit his music with old bandmates and Patrick Bartley Jr.'s young New York band.

'The Black Messiah' And The Legacy Of Cannonball Adderley

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/745324110/745476669" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Masego plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 8, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Masego

The spirit of Cab Calloway lives on in Masego, the singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who surprised NPR's Tiny Desk audience with a zany sense of showmanship.

Jacob Collier plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 16, 2019. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jacob Collier

As the NPR staff gathered to watch his performance, Jacob Collier sprinted full bore down the hallway for his set, hardly able to contain his creative energy or enthusiasm.

Watch the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour perform live from Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Jazz at Lincoln Center

Watch The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour Celebrate 60 Years

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Watch the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour featuring Christian Sands, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Bria Skonberg, Melissa Aldana, Yasushi Nakamura and Jamison Ross.

Back To Top