Corey Mwamba



I am listening to Charlie Rouse play within the Town Hall ensemble of 1959. This is very easy; there are no other saxophonists that I can think of that sound like Rouse. He has a model of playing that many players respect but few go for; it is deceptively simple. He had a language, and played linguistically. He also had the magical gift of staying on topic — the theme itself became something he could use. He also used space and breath. He did not learn this from Monk, but from before; you can hear him play like this with Oscar Pettiford in 1954 or Clifford Brown in 1953. What happened to Rouse when he joined Monk was that the music fit the player. Rouse made more sense within a music that had an insistence on grooving, being solid, and having the main melody as the point of the song. For this reason, I have never understood Amiri Baraka's criticism that Monk's sidemen weren't digging deeply into the music; Rouse actually really went there and played the music much more like Monk than any sideman before, while still sounding exactly like himself.

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