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Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Craig Butler
Thelonius Monk: Straight, No Chaser is an absolute treasure trove for jazz aficionados in general and Thelonius Monk devotees in particular. Most viewers who do not fall into either camp should still find a lot to enjoy in Chaser, but be warned: some people never were able to "get into" Monk's music, and those people may find Chaser less rewarding. That's largely because the bulk of Chaser is made up of wonderful, rare archival footage from concerts that the jazz legend gave in 1968. It's a little disappointing that there's not more depth to the interviews, which could have led to a better understanding of Monk the person. But the fact of the matter is that Monk was a mystery; he suffered from some form of unspecified mental illness that made relating to other people, or revealing much of himself to others, very difficult. With that in mind, Chaser succeeds quite well, for it presents enough information about the man to leave audiences as puzzled as many of his long time acquaintances were by him. As mentioned earlier, however, the real gold of Chaser is in the performance segments, which reveal Monk as a true genius of both composition and interpretation -- and a man with a style of playing the piano that was truly his own. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi
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