All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

286

Thelonious Monk: The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside

By

Sign in to view read count
One fundamental paradox of compilation albums is the way so many good ones ultimately render themselves useless. Consider how many hits packages sit untouched on the shelves of aficionados, doomed to a lifetime of neglect simply for having the gall to work efficiently as the conversion tools they were intended to be. Consequently, a great compilation requires a functionality beyond simply being a commercially-endorsed mix CD. The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside spans the great pianist/composer's most revered era (1952-1960), and appears outwardly as nothing special: It unearths nothing unfamiliar, runs in obvious chronological order, and culls almost strictly from records that are worth owning in full. However, this collection illustrates contrasts that the LP's don't; in a micro sense, it's absolutely worthy of its title.

For example, the same recording of "Caravan" which felt stiff and tentative capping off 1955's uncharacteristically reverent Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington feels light and airy here, a rest stop on the road from the reflective nine-plus minute "Bemsha Swing" (from Miles Davis' 1954 Modern Jazz Giants session) to 1956's mathematically impossible "Brilliant Corners." These little disparities butt heads everywhere—from his smallest format (solo readings of "'Round Midnight" and "Ruby, My Dear") to his largest ("Little Rootie Tootie" from 1959's gargantuan Town Hall Orchestra date), his best-traveled vintages (a 1957 septet take on "Well, You Needn't") to his most impulsive sounds (the celeste/piano standoff on "Pannonica"), this is T.S. Monk at his broadest and most articulate.

Throughout, the leader employs the stable of tenor men he helped make famous: A barely-drinking age Sonny Rollins (whose soloing on 1954's "I Want to Be Happy" seems particularly attuned to just that); a John Coltrane on the cusp of turning his harmonic vocabulary into an entirely new language; the wickedly funny Johnny Griffin (who joyously drops a few licks from "Surrey With the Fringe On Top" into "Nutty" from 1958's Misterioso); and the stoic Charlie Rouse, who uses "Straight, No Chaser" to test his mettle as wing man for the victory lap that Monk would take for Columbia in the 1960s.

Each uniquely personal style coalesces atop Monk's piano, which is so unmistakable that it's incapable of going rogue even when it tries. These are his beloved quirks—the bouncy lines that threaten fluidity before crashing into brick walls of dissonant chords; the spaces between notes which the pianist adopts as his mental workspace; the solos too shrewd to disregard the heads that weren't being played straight to begin with. On this foundation, the whole collection unfolds as a kind of commemorative mural—a celebration of an American original whose songbook and style are as immortal as they are inimitable. You may snag this collection as a novice, and ten years from now you may find yourself writing a reference book on Monk bootlegs. But don't be surprised if this is the disc you catch yourself reaching for even then.

Track Listing: CD1: Bye-Ya; We See; Blue Monk; I Want to Be Happy; Bemsha Swing; Caravan; Tea For Two; Pannonica; Brilliant Corners; 'Round Midnight. CD2: Well, You Needn't; Off Minor (Take 5); Epistrophy; Trinkle, Tinkle; Rhythm-a-ning; Evidence; Nutty; Little Rootie Tootie; Straight, No Chaser; Ruby, My Dear; Four in One (Take 2).

Personnel: Thelonious Monk: piano; Gary Mapp: bass (CD1#2); Art Blakey: drums (CD1#1-3, CD1#7, CD#1-3), Ray Copeland: trumpet (CD1#2, CD2#1); Frank Foster: tenor saxophone (CD1#2), Curly Russell: bass (CD1#2); Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone (CD1#4, CD1#8,-9); Tommy Potter: bass (CD1#4); Art Taylor: drums (CD1#4, CD2#8-9); Miles Davis: trumpet (CD1#5); Milt Jackson: vibes (CD1#5); Percy Heath: bass (CD1#5); Kenny Clarke: drums (CD1#5-6); Oscar Pettiford: bass (CD1#6- 9); Ernie Henry: alto saxophone (CD1#8-9); Max Roach: drums (CD1#8-9); Gigi Gryce: alto saxophone (CD2#1-3); John Coltrane: tenor saxophone (CD2#1- 4); Coleman Hawkins: tenor saxophone (CD2#1-3); Wilbur Ware: bass (CD2#1-5); Shadow Wilson: drums (CD2#4-5); Gerry Mulligan: baritone saxophone (CD2#5); Johnny Griffin: tenor saxophone (CD2#6-7); Ahmed Abdul-Malik: bass (CD2#6-7); Roy Haynes: drums (CD2#6-7); Jay McAllister: tuba (CD2#8); Robert Northern: French horn (CD2#8); Eddie Bert: trombone (CD2#8); Donald Byrd: trumpet (CD2#8); Pepper Adams: baritone saxophone (CD2#8); Charlie Rouse: tenor saxophone (CD2#8-9, CD2#11); Phil Woods: alto saxophone (CD2#8); Sam Jones: bass (CD2#8); Thad Jones: cornet (CD2#9); Joe Gordon: trumpet (CD2#11); John Ore: bass (CD2#11); Billy Higgins: drums (CD2#11).

Title: The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

History of Jazz
In Pictures
Highly Opinionated
Best of / Year End
What is Jazz?
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960

Les Liaisons...

Sam Records
2017

buy
Newport '59

Newport '59

Concert Vault
2013

buy
Paris 1969

Paris 1969

Blue Note / Capitol
2013

buy
 

The Ultimate...

Sony Music
2012

buy
 

Anthology

Sony Music
2011

buy
Monk's Music

Monk's Music

Original Jazz Classics Remasters
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Piano Works CD/LP/Track Review
Piano Works
by John Sharpe
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Throw Tomatoes CD/LP/Track Review
Throw Tomatoes
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Reflections 2 CD/LP/Track Review
Reflections 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read "Making Other Arrangements" CD/LP/Track Review Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Gledalec" CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Color Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Color Tones
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Nahnou Houm" CD/LP/Track Review Nahnou Houm
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 28, 2017
Read "Zea" CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Satoko Fujii Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018