News comes today that Monty Stark of Stark Reality passed away in the early evening of Thanksgiving, November 26, 2009. Friend Dennis Sexton wrote, “Monty courageously battled Cancer on his own terms, seeking not to endure the pain of the usual therapy, but went his own way at Hospice of the Valley in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lived out his last several weeks.”
Monty's group Stark Reality – with John Abercrombie, Phil Morrison, and Vinnie Johnson – released the 1970 album The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop, a brilliant jazz/funk/psychedelic-rock fusion reinvention of 50's children music by songwriter Hoagy Carmichael.
Much could be said about the power of this rare record to inspire a diverse range of musicians, collectors, hip-hop producers and casual listeners over the years – but it might be summed up by Hoagy Carmichael's own reaction, from the album's original liner notes:
“This is children’s music!?…I say, ‘Stark mad,’” Carmichael wrote. “Monty’s voice?…somewhere between the filings on the edge of a pie pan, and the singing of a guru during one of his most exalted moments.”
MORE ON MONTY STARK:
Stark Reality Now Egon's liner notes for Now, the Stark Reality anthology released on Stones Throw in 2003, from interviews with Monty Stark and everyone else associated with the band while he was compiling the record.
Monty Stark Monty's own website, a wealth of information, including clips from many of the hip-hop producers who sampled his work.
…And I wish we had a photo of the night Monty Stark and MF DOOM met and talked for an hour backstage at House of Blues in Disneyland (of all places). What a surreal moment.
"Dreams" (1970) from Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop and Now
“Comrades” (1970) from Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop and Now
“Say Brother” (1969), theme song for the WGBH public television show.
Stark Reality performing “Acting, Thinking, Feeling” on Say Brother, circa 1969.
A segment from WGBH's Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop public television show from 1969, including segments with Stark Reality's music as it was used for the show.