Straight no chaser

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Straight No Chaser (initially also Straight, No Chaser ) is a jazz standard that Thelonious Monk composed and published in 1951. It is one of Monk's most frequently covered compositions. Straight No Chaser is also the title of a Columbia album that Orrin Keepnews produced in 1989 as the soundtrack for the Monk film of the same name, directed by Charlotte Zwerin . The title is actually used for drinks orders and means something like "pure, without soda."

Structure and structure of the composition

Straight No Chaser is a twelve- measure jazz blues that manages with three harmonies (Bb7, Eb7, F7) and dispenses with passage chords. The melody essentially consists of an ascending blues motif (fb-cis-d) only three beats long, which starts over again and again. “The keynote b of this figure first falls on the first and fourth beats, the phrase comes to a halt after the rounding down of Es-c. In the next four-bar approach (bars 3 to 6) the note b falls again in what appears to be three-quarters time on beats 1 and 4 (in bar 3), then on 3 (in bar 3) and 2 (in bar 5). " Again, the phrase only goes up to c. The motif is recorded a third time, from bar 7 to bar 12. Now the figure starts a beat later, the b falls on the 2 in bar 7 and on the 1 and 4 in bar 8. It is only in bar 11 it "after a long chromatic eighth note rise (from f to e-flat)" again on the first beat. Only in this development does the motif find its harmonious goal with the final note d.

In jazz research, this composition is a prime example of Monk's compositional style. “Monk has developed the logic of his (three-beat) motif› against ‹the (four-beat) chord structure with rare vehemence.” Sometimes the tension created “between the completely flat blues scheme and a melody that couldn't be phrased more irregularly” consists of four and sometimes seven tones, forms the "charm of the piece."

First recordings

The piece was initially recorded on July 23, 1951 for Monk's album Genius of Modern Music ; it also appeared on single (A-side was Four in One , Blue Note 1589). “The solo entry (fbc-cis-fc) already quotes the theme, but especially at the beginning of the second solo chorus it sounds for several bars.” Then Sahib Shihab and Milt Jackson play further solos. In 1956 a first solo recording of the piece was made for Columbia . Another recording was made on August 12, 1957 in the cooperation of Monk with Gerry Mulligan (for the album Mulligan Meets Monk ). "Muligan improvises in a relaxed, cool mid-tempo" already during the presentation of the topic; “Monk accompanies the well thought-out baritone solo ” with a riff figure, which he takes from the theme ... Mulligan complements a piano solo with a deep counterpoint line that is characterized by spirited, capricious dissonances . There are numerous later recordings by Monk.

Reception history

Cannonball Adderley was the first musician who took up Monk's composition and recorded it in 1958 in a very "relaxed way". Miles Davis followed just a month later , who recorded an up-tempo version of Straight No Chaser with John Coltrane and Adderley for his album Milestones ; According to Hans-Jürgen Schaal , this was the "decisive step into the standard repertoire": In a relatively short time, further recordings of the piece were made by musicians such as Johnny Griffin , Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis , Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson , Wes Montgomery , Lee Morgan or Quincy Jones . Numerous pianists have presented their own versions of the piece, such as Bud Powell , Oscar Peterson , Red Garland , Bill Evans , Kenny Barron , Keith Jarrett , Jessica Williams , Kenny Drew Jr. , Chick Corea and Eddie Higgins .

"The extraordinary composition inspired stylists from all backgrounds - from swing tenorist Ben Webster to bebop clarinetist Buddy DeFranco to trumpet lyricist Chet Baker ." In 1978 Heiner Stadler reconstructed the piece as a "free jazz excursion" with George Adams , George Lewis and Stanley Cowell . "In 1981 Bennie Wallace blew an idiosyncratic trio version that imitated Monk's dissonant voicings with out tones on the tenor sax ." The interpretation as a salsa number by Tito Puente or by Nguyên Lê as a "funk rock piece in 5/4." -Tact. "

In 1986, Ben Sidran wrote a text for the composition in which he linguistically repeated the formal principle of the composition. The words “You better look out” stand for the tones fbcd. Carmen McRae played another vocal version of the song in 1988 under the title Get It Straight ; the words are from Sally Swisher. Karrin Allyson also interpreted this text .


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Straight No Chaser at
  2. a b c d e f H.-J. Schaal, Jazz-Standards, p. 475
  3. ^ "Monk employed simple compositional devices with very original results. His Straight, No Chaser involves basically only one idea played again and again, each time in a different part of the measure and with a different ending. "- Mark C. Gridley: Jazz Styles: History and Analysis . Prentice Hall 2002. ISBN 0130992828 .
  4. a b c d Monk discography
  5. a b c H.-J. Schaal, Jazz-Standards, p. 476
  6. See Schaal, p. 476 and the song portrait at
  7. a b c H.-J. Schaal, Jazz-Standards, p. 477