Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
388

Thelonious Monk: Criss-Cross

David Rickert By

Sign in to view read count Views
Thelonious Monk: Criss-Cross Monk’s first record for Columbia could be accused of being a safe bet since it features a selection of classic Monk tunes instead of new material. However, don’t dismiss it too quickly. On the original recordings of these songs, the pianist played as if he was chiseling the tunes out of marble, and part of the fun was listening to what seemed very much like composition in progress. These recordings, on the other hand, sound more like finished sculptures or polished works of art.

Perhaps Monk sensed that this would be the last time he would record these tunes in the studio, or maybe Macero gave him more takes to hone a flawless performance. Nevertheless, Criss Cross was (and is) a great way for listeners unfamiliar with Monk to experience him for the first time in slightly low-key performances of classic Monk tunes. None of the songs exceeds four minutes and offer an excellent cross section of Monk’s artistry, from the lively “Hackensack” to the artfully constructed “Criss Cross” with a couple of standards thrown in, of course. “Crepuscle With Nellie” is arguably the best rendition of the tune, with Charlie Rouse displaying an empathy and understanding that not even Sonny Rollins could find. Monk may have had more interesting sidemen in his past, but Rouse gave the group a reliability it previously never had. However, “Pannonica” (not on the original LP release but added as a bonus track to the previous CD reissue) meanders too long and “Coming on the Hudson” (a brand new bonus track for this release) is a complicated tune on which not even Rouse can find footing. At any rate, an excellent fresh start.


For related reviews, see Combing the Columbia/Legacy Catalog .


Track Listing: 1. Hackensack 2. Tea For Two 3. Criss Cross 4. Eronel 5. Rhythm-A-Ning 6. Don

Personnel: 1. Hackensack 2. Tea For Two 3. Criss Cross 4. Eronel 5. Rhythm-A-Ning 6. Don

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Columbia Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

Genius Guide to Jazz
Book Reviews
Building a Jazz Library
My Blue Note Obsession
Jazz Poetry
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Newport '59
Newport '59
Concert Vault
2013
buy
Paris 1969
Paris 1969
Blue Note / Capitol
2013
buy
[no cover]
The Ultimate...
Sony Music
2012
buy
[no cover]
Anthology
Sony Music
2011
buy
Monk's Music
Monk's Music
Original Jazz Classics Remasters
2011
buy
[no cover]
Straight No Chaser -...
Sony Music
2011
buy
Miles Davis Miles Davis
trumpet
John Coltrane John Coltrane
saxophone
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker
sax, alto
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus
bass, acoustic
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
McCoy Tyner McCoy Tyner
piano
Bud Powell Bud Powell
piano

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.