THELONIOUS MONK - The Complete Trios 1947 - 56
Essential Jazz EJC 55677
THELONIOUS MONK plus:
CD1 [1-10] : GENE RAMEY (b) ART BLAKEY (d) New York, October 24, 1947.
CD1 [11-12]: AL McKIBBON (b) ART BLAKEY (d) New York, July 23, 1951.
CD1 : NELSON BOYD (b) MAX ROACH (d) New York, May 30, 1952.
CD1 [14-17]: GARY MAPP (b) ART BLAKEY (d) New York, October 15, 1952.
CD1 [18-21]: GARY MAPP (b) MAX ROACH (d) New York, December 18, 1952.
CD1 [22-23] & CD 2 : PERCY HEATH (b) ART BLAKEY (d) Hackensack, New Jersey, September 22 18, 1954.
CD2 [2-8]: OSCAR PETTIFORD (b) KENNY CLARKE (d) Hackensack, New Jersey, July 21 & 27, 1955.
CD2 [9-14]: OSCAR PETTIFORD (b) ART BLAKEY (d) Hackensack, New Jersey, March 17 & April 3, 1956.
Monk solo or Monk in a trio is the best way to hear this wonderful jazz giant. There are no distractions from other solo voices. The music here is essential. These are the Blue Note and Prestige recordings and the sides that Monk did for Orrin Keepnews at Riverside. At that stage of his career he was blessed with great drummers: Max Roach, Art Blakey and Kenny Clarke.
The essential compositions are here: ‘Ruby My Dear’, ‘Little Rootie Tootie’, ‘Off Minor’, ‘Monk’s Dream’, ‘Blue Monk’. All Monk’s compositions look as though they are going to stand the test of time. They are still inspiring contemporary players with their quirkiness. Indeed, it is the quirkiness that delayed Monk’s acceptance that is now securing his place in jazz.
One of the really intriguing sessions was the recording of Ellington pieces. Orrin Keepnews, in an effort to increase Monk’s acceptance, persuaded Monk to record some Ellington compositions. Monk did and it is fascinating to hear his interpretations. Hearing Monk on ‘Caravan’ is to hear two musical minds colliding. Monk also digs out the bluesiness of ‘Black and Tan Fantasy’. Interestingly Monk did not return to the Ellington oeuvre in the following years.
The other album that Monk did for Riverside was ‘The Unique Thelonious Monk’. It was another attempt to increase his appeal. Most of the pieces are well known songs by great composers such as Gershwin, Fats Waller and Richard Rogers. Monk embellishes them all with his unique sensibility.
Humphrey Lyttelton once described Monk’s playing as sounding like the work of a great musician who has just sat down at the piano for the first time. Lyttelton also believed that Monk pioneered a way out of the cul-de-sac that players like Oscar Peterson had got trapped into.
If you don’t have these early Monk albums, this is an excellent way to acquire them. They are essential for anyone who wants to understand the music of one of the great musicians of jazz.
The two CDs are accompanied by an illustrated booklet with an essay by Matias Rinar and original sleeve notes by Orrin Keepnews, Nat Hentoff and Ira Gitler.
Reviewed by Jack Kenny