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Jazz - Released December 15, 2017 | Craft Recordings

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It’s surprising to hear that since the dawn of the ‘50s, Thelonious Monk already wasn’t a pianist like the others. Or even a musician like the others… With The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection, we find five 10-Inches made for the label Prestige which have been reunited, restored and remastered from original tapes by Joe Tarantino: Thelonious Monk Trio: Thelonious (1952), Thelonious Monk Quintet Blows For LP, Featuring Sonny Rollins (1953), Thelonious Monk Quintet (1954), Thelonious Monk Plays (1954) and Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk (1954). Artistically, Monk was already in his honeymoon period even though this perhaps wasn’t the most joyous time in the musician’s life. The law had confiscated his professional card, forbidding him from playing in clubs in New York. But the contract that Bob Weinstock made him sign with Prestige allowed him to shine during this time in the recording studios. So here we find a musician who’s hungrier than ever before. He’s adventurous too. Not to mention being ahead of the jazz of his time. Already, on a few recordings for Blue Note carried out between the end of the 40s and 1952, Monk went down jazz paths less trodden without ever straying off the route. Here, the whole affair is even more striking. Most of all in the pieces where he is joined by another genius, Sonny Rollins, who also devoted himself to shaking up the rules of a thriving musical genre that was at its most intense and revolutionising age. © MD/Qobuz

Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | Riverside

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The studio and live recording sessions that Thelonious Monk cut during his six-year stay at the Riverside label are compiled over the 15 discs in the Complete Riverside Recordings. This middle era -- between his early sides for Prestige and the final ones for Columbia -- is generally considered Monk's most ingenious and creative period. The sessions are presented in chronological order, accurately charting the progression and diversions of one of the most genuinely enigmatic figures in popular music. The Complete Riverside Recordings explores Monk's genius with a certain degree of real-time analysis that simply listening to each of the individual albums from this era lacks. This is due in part to the 14 additional performances exclusive to this collection. However, a more satisfying level of assessing Monk's indelible marks of extemporaneous perfection can be heard within his prankster-like sense of timing or innate penchant for sophisticated arrangements. Among the sessions captured on this exhaustive set are the Duke Ellington sides and the Sonny Rollins era (which yielded the genre-defining Brilliant Corners), as well as meetings with Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and Gerry Mulligan. Additionally, the entire Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall performance is presented just as it went down -- with solo and quartet sets intact. Accompanying the discs is a 28-page full-size (12"x12") booklet that is indispensable in dispelling myths and making sense of the convoluted and seemingly random order in which many of these recordings have been previously issued. It also contains a complete sessionography annotated by Monk's producer during this era, Orrin Keepnews. This is a convenient, albeit pricey way to obtain all of this remarkable music. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released August 19, 2003 | Columbia - Legacy

Although often unrightfully maligned by self-proclaimed "purists," Thelonious Monk did some brilliant work during his early- to mid-'60s stint for Columbia Records. It's Monk's Time (1964) contains some of the best -- if not arguably the best -- studio sides that the pianist cut during his final years as a recording musician. The album's title turned out to be somewhat prophetic, as Time magazine featured Monk as the cover subject for its February 28, 1964, edition. Interestingly, he was to have been profiled by the periodical the previous November; however, the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy took obvious precedence. It had been almost a full year since his previous studio release, Criss-Cross (1963), and there had been a significant alteration in the rhythm section, which now incorporated the respective talents of both Butch Warren (bass) and Ben Riley (drums) as well as longtime cohort Charlie Rouse (tenor sax). From four sessions in early 1964, It's Monk's Time gathers four quartet and two solo sides, presenting the pinnacle of what these musicians offered stylistically as well as from the standpoint of presentation. There is sense of mischievous playfulness in Monk's nimble keyboard work, especially notable on the beautifully off-kilter unaccompanied opening to "Lulu's Back in Town," and the same practically impish quality also drives the solo performance on "Nice Work if You Can Get It." Both pop standards are prime examples of the bop pioneer's inimitable approach to arranging, and also provide an uncanny insight to his influences. Immediately evident are the styles of stride legends from the well-known Willie "The Lion" Smith and James P. Johnson to the slightly more obscure and decidedly frenetic playing of Cliff Jackson, as well as the ragtime approach of Walter L. Rose. The results are bound together in Monk's arithmetically advanced delivery and harmonic composition. The combo -- especially Rouse -- effectively supports and punctuates the tricky timing of "Stuffy Turkey" and the more aggressive bop of "Brake's Sake." The latter title also unleashes some tasty interaction between Monk and Rouse, sonically exemplifying their practically single-minded synergy. The concluding cut, "Shuffle Boil," is one of the lost gems of the artist's later work. It sports an effortless swing over a sophisticated and challenging melodic structure. Bassist Warren steps up to the plate, providing a supple and pulsating bed for both Monk and Rouse as they trade solos. [In 2003, Legacy issued an expanded edition of It's Monk's Time with a trio of bonus tracks, two of which were previously unavailable.] ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released April 6, 1998 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Jazz - Released September 29, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
Thelonious Monk was 34 years old when he crossed the Atlantic for the first time. In that year of 1954, the American pianist, already considered a great trend-setter, was the guest of the Jazz Festival that takes place at the Salle Pleyel where he performed with drummer Jean-Louis Viale and bass player Jean-Marie Ingrand. This album released in 2017, Monk’s centennial year, offers the recording of five titles from this performance, but its true value lies elsewhere: Thelonious Monk solo on piano, that producer André Francis was wise enough to record. Even wiser since the musician had never been recorded solo before. And it’s like fireworks! Listening to such music blending chaos and passion, humor and intelligence is like watching a tightrope walker on the edge but of course never falling. And let’s not forget the genius of the compositions! All of Monk's art is already there, in this Parisian walk of 1954 that still sounds as modern as it did many decades ago… © MZ/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released April 25, 1997 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1965 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1982 | Prestige Records

Any Thelonious Monk album that kicks off with a seven-minute version of "Blue Monk" is worth listening to. Backed alternately by bassists Percy Heath and Gary Mapp and drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach, Monk unleashes his idiosyncratic piano lines against a spare backdrop. Beautifully rendered, the opening piece is a highlight of the album, oddly combining disharmonic riffs within a melodic and very memorable structure. It's followed, surprisingly, by a rather tepid version of "Just a Gigolo," more lounge than jazz in execution. The set picks up again, however, on "Bemsha Swing" and later with a noisy "Little Rootie Tootie," another fascinating study in dissonance with some great drum work by Blakey. Because the album was pieced together from three different sessions, it's often difficult to identify the supporting players on individual cuts. Nonetheless, the small settings used on all ten pieces feature intricate interplay between bass, drums, and piano. They allow the necessary space for Monk's explorations, which conjure up images of a mathematician working out geometric patterns on the keyboard. While mathematical music may sound a bit cold and soulless, pieces like "Monk's Dream" and "Trinkle, Tinkle" evoke a sublime beauty as they build order out of chaos. Intimate, intense, and inspired, Thelonious Monk Trio offers 35 minutes of professional musicians practicing their craft. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Jazz - Released October 1, 1979 | Columbia - Legacy

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Thelonious Monk fans in particular are advised to search for this valuable two-LP set for it contains a variety of unissued material from the pianist/composer's six-year period with Columbia. Monk is heard on three piano solos, with his regular working quartet, heading a trio on "Easy Street" and at his renowned Lincoln Center concert with a nonet on "Light Blue" and "Bye Ya." The music on this two-fer is at the same consistent high level as his Columbia recordings of the 1960s and contains some surprising moments. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released December 15, 2017 | Craft Recordings

It’s surprising to hear that since the dawn of the ‘50s, Thelonious Monk already wasn’t a pianist like the others. Or even a musician like the others… With The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection, we find five 10-Inches made for the label Prestige which have been reunited, restored and remastered from original tapes by Joe Tarantino: Thelonious Monk Trio: Thelonious (1952), Thelonious Monk Quintet Blows For LP, Featuring Sonny Rollins (1953), Thelonious Monk Quintet (1954), Thelonious Monk Plays (1954) and Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk (1954). Artistically, Monk was already in his honeymoon period even though this perhaps wasn’t the most joyous time in the musician’s life. The law had confiscated his professional card, forbidding him from playing in clubs in New York. But the contract that Bob Weinstock made him sign with Prestige allowed him to shine during this time in the recording studios. So here we find a musician who’s hungrier than ever before. He’s adventurous too. Not to mention being ahead of the jazz of his time. Already, on a few recordings for Blue Note carried out between the end of the 40s and 1952, Monk went down jazz paths less trodden without ever straying off the route. Here, the whole affair is even more striking. Most of all in the pieces where he is joined by another genius, Sonny Rollins, who also devoted himself to shaking up the rules of a thriving musical genre that was at its most intense and revolutionising age. © MD/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released August 27, 2001 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released October 28, 1996 | Vogue

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Jazz - Released July 23, 2013 | Original Jazz Classics

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Concord Records

One of Thelonious Monk's finest bands was the quartet he led in 1958 that featured tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin. Griffin sounded quite comfortable playing Monk's music and his fiery style really inspired the pianist/composer. This two-LP set has many great moments including "In Walked Bud," "Nutty," and "Let's Cool One" and makes you regret that this band did not stay together for a much longer period. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released October 30, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released April 1, 1964 | Legacy - Columbia

This is one of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk's greatest recordings and represents a high point in his career. Performing at Philharmonic Hall in New York, Monk is heard taking an unaccompanied solo on "Darkness on the Delta" and jamming with his quartet (which had Charlie Rouse on tenor, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Frank Dunlop) on fine versions of "Played Twice" and a previously unreleased rendition of "Misterioso." However, this two-CD set has its most memorable moments during the six full-length performances by a ten-piece group. Monk's quartet was joined by cornetist Thad Jones, trumpeter Nick Travis, Steve Lacy on soprano, altoist Phil Woods, baritonist Gene Allen, and trombonist Eddie Bert. Jones and Woods have plenty of solos and, although Lacy surprisingly does not have any individual spots, his soprano is a major part of some of the ensembles. Most remarkable is "Four in One," which after one of Monk's happiest (and very rhythmic) solos features the orchestra playing a Hal Overton transcription of a complex and rather exuberant Monk solo taken from his original record. This two-CD set is a gem and can be considered essential for all jazz collections. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside