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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS - The Qobuz Standard
With the robust ambience of Fugazi Hall in San Francisco at his disposal, Thelonious Monk recorded ten unaccompanied tracks over two days to create a long-awaited sequel to his immensely endearing Thelonious Himself long-player. As had become somewhat customary for Monk, he brought with him a healthy sampling from his voluminous back catalog, cover tunes, as well as a few new compositions. What is most immediately striking about these recordings is the rich and accurate sound stage at Fugazi Hall. The overtones are rich and thoughtful in their ability to animate Monk's recreations of some of his most endearing works, such as the pair that opens this set. "Blue Monk" still retains the proud stride and walking blues heritage of previous renderings. Adding a bit of off-tempo improvisation, Monk propels and emphasizes the rhythmic swing even harder. He is obviously also enjoying what he is hearing. The audible maturity guiding Monk through the familiar, albeit offbeat, chord progressions of "Ruby, My Dear" is striking. His nimble reflexes and split-second timing render this version superior. Again, the sound of the hall offers even more to enjoy from this performance. It is unfortunate that the playful solitude of "Round Lights" was never revisited. This freeform composition is framed within a blues structure, yet reveals all of the slightly askew freedom of a Monk original. The recreation of an old 1920s hit, "There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie," is another of the highlights from Thelonious Alone in San Francisco that was never recorded again by Monk. The noir qualities are immeasurably enhanced by Monk's oblique phrasings as well as the eerie resonance of the Fugazi. This is an absolute must-own recording -- Monk enthusiast or not. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released September 23, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Monk's Dream is the Columbia Records debut release featuring the Thelonious Monk Quartet: Monk (piano), Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), John Ore (bass), and Frankie Dunlop (drums). Jazz scholars and enthusiasts alike also heralded this combo as the best Monk had been involved with for several years. Although he would perform and record supported by various other musicians, the tight -- almost telepathic -- dimensions that these four shared has rarely been equalled in any genre. By the early '60s, bop had become considered passé by artists as well as fans looking for the next musical trend. This is coupled with the fact that discerning Monk fans would have undoubtedly recognized many of these titles from several live recordings issued at the end of his tenure on Riverside. Not to belabor the point, however, but precious few musicians understood the layer upon layer of complexities and challenges that Monk's music created. On tracks such as "Five Spot Blues" and "Bolivar Blues," Rouse and Dunlop demonstrate their uncanny abilities by squeezing in well-placed instrumental fills, while never getting hit by the unpredictable rhythmic frisbees being tossed about by Monk. Augmenting the six quartet recordings are two solo sides: "Just a Gigolo" and "Body and Soul." Most notable about Monk's solo work is how much he retained the same extreme level of intuition throughout the nearly two decades that separate these recordings from his initial renderings in the late '40s. Monk's Dream is recommended, with something for every degree of Monk enthusiast. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released September 23, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
The Thelonious Monk Quartet of 1964 (comprised of the pianist-composer, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, and drummer Ben Riley) is well featured on this excellent set which is augmented by two "new" alternate takes ("April in Paris" and "Pannonica") plus a medley of "Just You, Just Me" and "Liza" that was out previously on a sampler. The unique Monk takes "I Love You Sweetheart of All My Dreams" as a piano solo and otherwise jams tunes with his quartet. Surprisingly only two of the songs ("Pannonica" and "Teo") are his originals, but he reinvents the obscure "Children's Song," "Just You, Just Me," and "April in Paris" so they sound like he wrote them! Easily recommended to Monk fans, this set is just further proof that he never made an unworthy recording. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Original Jazz Classics

Distinctions Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
With the robust ambience of Fugazi Hall in San Francisco at his disposal, Thelonious Monk recorded ten unaccompanied tracks over two days to create a long-awaited sequel to his immensely endearing Thelonious Himself long-player. As had become somewhat customary for Monk, he brought with him a healthy sampling from his voluminous back catalog, cover tunes, as well as a few new compositions. What is most immediately striking about these recordings is the rich and accurate sound stage at Fugazi Hall. The overtones are rich and thoughtful in their ability to animate Monk's recreations of some of his most endearing works, such as the pair that opens this set. "Blue Monk" still retains the proud stride and walking blues heritage of previous renderings. Adding a bit of off-tempo improvisation, Monk propels and emphasizes the rhythmic swing even harder. He is obviously also enjoying what he is hearing. The audible maturity guiding Monk through the familiar, albeit offbeat, chord progressions of "Ruby, My Dear" is striking. His nimble reflexes and split-second timing render this version superior. Again, the sound of the hall offers even more to enjoy from this performance. It is unfortunate that the playful solitude of "Round Lights" was never revisited. This freeform composition is framed within a blues structure, yet reveals all of the slightly askew freedom of a Monk original. The recreation of an old 1920s hit, "There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie," is another of the highlights from Thelonious Alone in San Francisco that was never recorded again by Monk. The noir qualities are immeasurably enhanced by Monk's oblique phrasings as well as the eerie resonance of the Fugazi. This is an absolute must-own recording -- Monk enthusiast or not. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Thelonious Monk was having a rough time of it during the latter 1960s. Experiencing health and some economic problems, he was also in dispute with Columbia Records, whose marketing department was trying to re-create him in the image of a rock star (see the cover of Underground). On top of this, he had lost his core rhythm section, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley. For his eighth European tour, the pianist hired young, unknown players as accompanists for himself and saxophonist Charlie Rouse: Berklee music school student Nate "Lloyd" Hygelund on bass and 17-year-old drummer Paris Wright -- son of bassist Herman Wright. This date was recorded on the last night of the tour at the 3,800 seat Salle Pleyel (the same theater in which a far lesser-known Monk, playing with a local rhythm section, had bombed badly in 1954), and was filmed for French television broadcast. The members of this band had been able to establish a rapport during their travels, including a stint at Ronnie Scott's in London as well as gigs in Berlin, Cologne, and Italy. The show finds Monk and band playing well -- even if, at times, they are just swinging through the tunes rather than embellishing them. The versions of his classic tunes -- "Ruby My Dear," "Straight, No Chaser," "Light Blue," "Epistrophy," "Crepuscule with Nelly," "Bright Mississippi" -- and others are played with a sophisticated command, if not the experimentation they once contained. Wright is a perfectly capable, hard-swinging hard bop drummer; his chops are impressive -- for his age -- if not exceptional. Hygelund is the perfect timekeeper, always physical and in the pocket, and Rouse, so familiar with his boss' music, plays it so effortlessly and perfectly that at times he seems on autopilot -- save for his angular solo on "Light Blue." Monk, despite his health problems, seems undiminished. While there is no dancing, unpredictable bashing of chords with his elbows, or other theatrics common to his earlier persona, his sense of rhythm, harmony, imagination, and swing is ample. Wright gets a lesson in how it's all done on "Nutty," when the pianist calls out Philly Joe Jones (then a resident of Paris), who, though looking haggard, adds a polyrhythmic thrust to the proceedings that emboldens and energizes Monk. Another spot where we hear the pianist stretch is in his uncharacteristically busy flourishes on "Ruby My Dear." This volume is a welcome addition to Monk's recorded catalog; it adds a fine performance to counter the then-popular critical notion that the great composer and pianist was languishing. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 27, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

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This is the sixth studio album cut by Thelonious Monk under the production/direction of Teo Macero for Columbia and as such should not be confused with the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1988 film of the same name. The band featured here includes: Monk (piano), Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass). This would be the final quartet Monk would assemble to record with in the studio. While far from being somber, this unit retained a mature flavor which would likewise place Monk's solos in a completely new context. At times, this adaptation presents itself more subtly than others. For instance, Monk's extended solo in "Locomotive" never reaches beyond itself due in part to the tempo-laden rhythm section. The contrast of styles, however, appreciates the caliber of this particular solo, including an obvious assertion by Monk which leads the band, albeit temporarily, into playing double-time. Other recommended quartet selections on this disc include a liberated version of the title track, which highlights some stellar interaction between Monk and Rouse. The same can be said for "We See," which features the hardest bop on the album. In addition to the quartet sides, Straight, No Chaser contains two unaccompanied piano solos: "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "This Is My Story, This Is My Song." [The original disc only included six performances, half of which were edited due to the stringent time constraints of vinyl; subsequent reissues not only restored all of the previously abridged performances, but also added a trio of sides, two of which ("I Didn't Know About You: Take 1" and "Green Chimneys") are issued here for the first time.] © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 12, 2016 | Jazzland

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Jazz - Released June 27, 2006 | Riverside

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1957. The two giants of jazz often meet at night on the stage of the Five Spot Café. At the start of this avalanche of New York concerts, they hit the studio, where they would record a dozen pieces for trio, quartet and septet. Incredible but true, these sessions with Art Blakey, Wilbur Ware, Coleman Hawkins, Shadow Wilson, Ray Copeland et Gigi Gryce, will be the only ones where Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane ever play together. If this double-act seems too good to be true, it's worth bearing in mind that at the time, the real star was Monk! Coltrane's name was certainly known among jazz specialists of his time, but his fame was nothing like what it would become. "Working with Monk", the saxophonist would later tell the magazine DownBeat, "brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I learned from him in every way.". As the name indicates, Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings is a collection of the recordings of these sessions, which were made up of themes almost all written by Monk. Initial recordings, false starts, alternative versions, studio conversation: it's all there! It's a pretty fascinating document, especially for the way that the pianist welcomes all his young colleagues into his unique musical world, so openly and so freely. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released August 19, 2003 | Columbia - Legacy

The mystery and haunting angular beauty of Thelonious Monk's unadorned keyboard sides are the focus of Solo Monk. As if holding the history of jazz in his hands, Monk's solo recordings and performances from every phase of his career remain pure. The components of what made Monk such an uncompromising composer, arranger, and especially bandmember are evident in every note he plays. The disc includes both Monk originals as well as several covers of pop music standards. A majority of these sides were cut during a West Coast swing in late October and early November 1964. This highly productive jaunt would likewise yield two live releases: Live at the It Club and Live at the Jazz Workshop; both would feature Monk's quartet. On an emotional level, however, these sides arguably surpass many of the band recordings. "Sweet and Lovely" contains several passages that are played with the command and intensity usually demanded of a classical work. The intense yet sophisticated chord progressions that punctuate "Ruby, My Dear" transform what once were simple pop melodies into unaccompanied rhapsodies. Monk transforms the solitude of "Everything Happens to Me" into a minor bop masterpiece replete with his signature disjointed phrasings and variable pacing. Parties interested in a more complete retrospective of Thelonious Monk's '60s solo recordings should also check out Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Piano Recordings 1962-1968. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 15, 2017 | Prestige

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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
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Blue Note Records

Volume 1 of the two-volume Genius of Modern Music set comprises the first sessions Thelonious Monk recorded as a leader, on October 15 and 24 and November 21 of 1947. It's impossible to overstate the importance of these sessions. They include some of the earliest recordings of Monk compositions that would become standards, despite their angularity and technical difficulty: the strange, sideways chord progression of "Thelonious"; the bouncy and cheerful but melodically cockeyed "Well, You Needn't"; the post-bop Bud Powell tribute "In Walked Bud"; and, of course, "'Round Midnight," which is now one of the most frequently recorded jazz compositions ever. There are kinks to be worked out: Art Blakey's drumming is fine, but he obviously hasn't quite taken the measure of Monk's compositional genius, and on the November session, alto saxophonist Sahib Shihab employs a fat, warbly tone that sounds out of place. But the excitement of discovery permeates every measure, and Monk himself is in top form, his solos jagged and strange, yet utterly beautiful. This first volume of Genius of Modern Music, along with the second, belongs in every jazz collection. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Prestige

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Jazz - Released April 15, 1968 | Columbia

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This release has long been considered Thelonious Monk's acknowledgement to the flourishing youth-oriented subculture from whence the collection takes its name. Certainly the Grammy-winning cover art -- which depicts Monk as a World War II French revolutionary toting an automatic weapon -- gave the establishment more than the brilliant swinging sounds in the grooves to consider. Underground became Monk's penultimate studio album, as well as the final release to feature the '60s quartet: Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass) behind Monk (piano). One of the motifs running throughout Monk's recording career is the revisitation of titles from his voluminous back catalog. The tradition continues with the autobiographical leadoff track, "Thelonious." The instantly recognizable stride piano lines are delivered with the same urgency and precision that they possessed over two decades earlier when he first recorded the track for Blue Note. The presence of Charlie Rouse throughout the album is certainly worth noting. "Ugly Beauty" best captures the sacred space and musical rapport that he and Monk shared. Each musician functions as an extension of the other, creating solos that weave synchronically as if performed by the same pair of hands. Newer material, such as the playful "Green Chimneys" -- named after the school Monk's daughter attended -- as well as the unbalanced hypnotism of "Raise Four," asserts the timelessness and relevance of Monk's brand of bop. The disc ends as it begins with a new twist on an old favorite. Jon Hendricks -- who provides lyrics and vocals on "In Walked Bud" -- recalls the hustle and bustle of the real and spontaneous underground Harlem jam sessions of the late '40s. It is likewise an apt bookend to this chapter in the professional life of Thelonious Monk. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

The two-disc Thelonious Monk anthology, 2014's 'Round Midnight: The Complete Blue Note Singles (1947-1952)), compiles all of the influential jazz pianist’s original 78 rpm singles released on the storied Blue Note label. These are Monk's first recordings under his own name, leading a group (not his debut recordings as a sideman with Coleman Hawkins). All of these recordings were later collected on various albums including Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1., and other anthologies. Here, they are presented in chronological order and with alternate takes. Recorded in six separate sessions beginning in October of 1947 and ending in May of 1952, these sides showcase many of the songs Monk composed, and which would quickly become part of the jazz canon. Included are "Evidence," "Mysterioso," "Well, You Needn't," and others. While the focal point of these albums is Monk's innovative use of dissonance and unexpected, angular melodicism, the recordings also benefit from a veritable who's-who of modern jazz of the period. Backing Monk here, variously, are such luminaries as drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, trumpeters Kenny Dorham and Idrees Sulieman, saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Lucky Thompson, and many more. While these recordings are widely available, it's both historically enlightening and aesthetically pleasing to have them collected so thoughtfully here. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 12, 1963 | Columbia - Legacy

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Criss-Cross -- Thelonious Monk's second album for Columbia Records -- features some of the finest work that Monk ever did in the studio with his '60s trio and quartet. Whether revisiting pop standards or reinventing Monk's own classic compositions, Monk and Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), John Ore (bass), and Frankie Dunlop (drums) exchange powerful musical ideas, as well as provide potent solos throughout the disc. Fittingly, "Hackensack" -- a frenetic original composition -- opens the disc by demonstrating the bandleader's strength in a quartet environment. The solid rhythmic support of the trio unfetters Monk into unleashing endless cascades of percussive inflections and intoxicating chord progressions. The title cut also reflects the ability of the four musicians to maintain melodic intricacies that are at times so exigent it seems cruel that Monk would have expected a musician of any caliber to pull them off. "Tea for Two" showcases Monk's appreciation for the great stride or "walking" piano style of James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith. The arrangement here is lighter, and features a trio (minus Rouse) to accent rather than banter with Monk's splashes of magnificence throughout. Likewise, Monk's solo on "Don't Blame Me" is excellent. The extended runs up and down the keyboard can't help but reiterate the tremendous debt of gratitude owed to the original stride pianists of the early 20th century. The 1993 compact disc pressing of Criss-Cross sounds great and adds a version of "Pannonica" that was previously unissued at the time. Unfortunately, however, the liner notes originally used on the album jacket -- penned by "Pannonica"'s namesake, Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter -- were replaced by those of a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. This is prime Monk for any degree of listener. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | Riverside

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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 31, 2015 | Riverside

Although Brilliant Corners is Thelonious Monk's third disc for Riverside, it's the first on the label to weigh in with such heavy original material. Enthusiasts who become jaded to the idiosyncratic nature of Monk's playing or his practically arithmetical chord progressions should occasionally revisit Brilliant Corners. There is an inescapable freshness and vitality saturated into every measure of every song. The passage of time makes it all the more difficult to imagine any other musicians bearing the capacity to support Monk with such ironic precision. The assembled quartet for the lion's share of the sessions included Max Roach (percussion), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Oscar Pettiford (bass), and Ernie Henry (alto sax). Although a compromise, the selection of Miles Davis' bassist, Paul Chambers, and Clark Terry (trumpet) on "Bemsha Swing" reveals what might be considered an accident of ecstasy, as they provide a timeless balance between support and being able to further the cause musically. Likewise, Roach's timpani interjections supply an off-balanced sonic surrealism while progressing the rhythm in and out of the holes provided by Monk's jackrabbit leads. It's easy to write Monk's ferocity and Forrest Gump-esque ingenuity off as gimmick or quirkiness. What cannot be dismissed is Monk's ability to translate emotions into the language of music, as in the freedom and abandon he allows through Sonny Rollins' and Max Roach's mesmerizing solos in "Brilliant Corners." The childlike innocence evoked by Monk's incorporation of the celeste during the achingly beautiful ode "Pannonica" raises the emotional bar several degrees. Perhaps more pointed, however, is the impassioned "I Surrender, Dear" -- the only solo performance on the album. Brilliant Corners may well be considered the alpha and omega of post-World War II American jazz. No serious jazz collection should be without it. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo