Thelonious Monk is a mystery, an enigma without a solution. More than any contemporary composer, he has succeeded in preserving his privacy. He has been qualified as bizarre and odd but one should not assume, as many have, that he deliberately created a "double" for himself so that he could remain even more removed from the world.
Pianist-composer Monk simply let himself drown in creative imagination. And when the muses deserted him, he didn't rail, he simply became indifferent. Which is why he did not write any music during the last ten years. He preferred to remain idle rather than capitulate to trendy influences.
And the mystery continues. When they went in to record six of his
compositions on January 17, 1982, Charlie Rouse, Ben Riley, Buster Williams and Kenny Barron were not aware that Thelonious Sphere Monk had passed away two hours earlier.
These four musicians make up the group "Sphere"and will undoubtedly be the "sleeper" of this Fourth Festival. Their first album, "Four in One", is one of the best of the jazz releases of the last four years. The group started to gel when bass player Buster Williams, pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Ben Riley were playing with the Ron Carter Orchestra with which they recorded the double album "Piccolo".
The three artists decided to form a group. lndividually, their experience is formidable. Buster Williams has played or make records with Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, McCoy Tyner and Hank Jones, besides which he produced five albums as leader. Kenny Barron played/recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Jimmy Heath and Stan Getz as well as recording "Kenny Barron at the Piano" on the "Xanadu" label. During a period of five years before joining Sphere, Ben Riley played/recorded with Johnny Griffin, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Rollins, Cedar Walton and Hank Jones while holding down a regular spot with the New York Jazz Quartet. As far as Charlie Rouse is concerned, his 30- year career has seen him play with Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Duke Jordan and Benny Carter and put together "The Jazz Modes". But he was best when playing with Monk and their association lasted eleven years. If is with Charlie Rouse's participation that the group Sphere (Monk's given name) became reality.