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Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington

C. Michael Bailey By

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I listen to a great deal of music. Categorically, I can say there are really only two types'good and better. As with the appreciation of anything, time must pass before the inherent value can be appropriately realized. That is why it is such great pleasure to review re-released recordings. More often than not, older recordings that are reissued are those deemed worthy by the powers-that-be to undergo sonic face-lifts or new audio presentation.

The 1955 Riverside recording Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington, just remastered with new technology, certainly falls into this category. On this trio recording the pianist receives support from bebop royalty: Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke. It is also Monk's debut for Riverside Records, as well as the first 12-inch LP released by the label.



All three bop masters are clarified in the remastering process with Pettiford's bass being affected the most by being brought effectively to the forefront during superbly constructed solos. Kenny Clarke is understated and powerful in his support. The pianist, as is tradition in the trio setting, plays the largest role with his unique approach to music, his own and others. Monk always had great love and respect of Ellington, a fact made abundantly clear on this recording. The group plays the majority of selections very straight, only deviating on a beautifully angular "Black and Tan Fantasy."



These sides were recorded on July 21 and 27, 1955. For perspective, Charlie Parker died a mere five months earlier. Bebop permeates these sides, Parker's legacy well intact by this time.

Note: Rudy Van Gelder's engineering is very effectively maintained by this remastering. The sonics are warm and inviting, with a perfect bass-treble balance.

Track Listing: It Don?t Mean A Thing; Sophisticated Lady; I Got It Bad (And That Ain?t Good); Black And Tan Fantasy; Mood Indigo; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart; Solitude; Caravan.

Personnel: Thelonious Monk?Piano; Oscar Pettiford?Bass; Kenny Clarke?Drums.

Title: Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

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