J. R. Monterose: the best tenor saxophonist you never heard

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J. R. Monterose: the best tenor saxophonist you never heard

My first encounter with J. R. Monterose was jaw-dropping. That was thirty years ago. Listening to him today is still jaw dropping. Bebop/hard bop, played by the masters in their young years. The rhythm section of Horace Silver (piano), Wilber Ware (bass) and “Philly” Joe Jones (drums) was in the top tier of jazz music masters of the 1950s. Ira Sullivan (trumpet) was gifted multi-instrumentalist who complemented J. R. Monterose’s majestic tenor. 


Born Frank Anthony Peter Vincent Monterose Jr, he was known by initials corrupted from the “junior” bit of his description. A first-rate musician, he restricted his performances to small clubs in small towns, mostly in up-state New York, before he relocated to Europe. 


Though he enjoyed very limited public acclaim in life and death, Monterose was a musician I would have loved to see and hear in live performance. This mono LP, J. R. Monterose, recorded by Blue Note (BLP 1536) on October 21, 1956, and released in 1957, is very highly recommended.


My copies, a Classic Records 33RPM reissue in 2009, and a Music Matters Jazz 45 RPM reissue in 2011, are among my favourite LPs. The music is impeccable, as can be heard here. The sound is excellent. It is my kind of music.


The original pressings of this rare record can cost more than --- are you sitting down? ---- $2,000 on Discogs. (see below).






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