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THELONIOUS MONK - Monk's Music cover
4.74 | 21 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1957

Filed under Bop


A1 Abide With Me 0:51
A2 Well, You Needn't 11:24
A3 Ruby, My Dear 5:26
A4 Off Minor 5:07
A5 Epistrophy 10:45
A6 Crepuscule With Nellie 4:37


- Thelonious Monk / piano
- Ray Copeland / trumpet
- Gigi Gryce / alto sax
- Coleman Hawkins / tenor sax
- John Coltrane / tenor sax
- Wilbur Ware / double bass
- Art Blakey / drums

About this release

Riverside RLP 12-242(US)

Recorded in New York, June 26, 1957

Thanks to kazuhiro for the addition and snobb for the updates


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Genius of Modern Music was the title that Blue Note records bestowed upon a relatively new pianist on the scene in 1947 who had been playing as a regular at Mintons Playhouse with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, and Miles Davis just to name a few. When one thinks of Be-Bops beginings we all say "Bird and Diz" but Thelonius Monk injected the lemon twist with his approach to composing and his complex and seemingly off beat tunes. He hit the piano keys like nobody else and still today is the most identifiable pianist you can hear. At times one feels he is on a childs piano with the technique he used to hit the keys and those spaces and jumps with notes are still incomparable today for originality in the structure of his compositions. Monk always had the melody by the throat and never lost it within his tunes always creating unforgettable Jazz. The composition "Well You Needn't" which he recorded earlier at Blue Note is a jazz tune that you can play in your head with that unmistakable introduction and structure which will stick like glue and be playing in your mind for the rest of the day.The same can be said for every composition on this album by Monk which he composed except for the first "Abide With Me" being an 1800's hymn written by another Monk ( William H Monk ) and only played by the four horn players which is first up and the introduction to the album "Monks Music". The band is every Jazz muscians dream with Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophone and Hawk has not recorded with Monk in a while at this time. Another tenor saxophone player fairly new on the scene at this time is John Coltrane bringing the the old and new together. Gigi Gryce is on alto saxophone an still today sadly underrated as the trumpet player Ray Copeland was, who actually is very good and Monk thought so as well to have had him in his band on many of his recordings. Wilbur Ware was a red hot bass player from this period who had been with Stuff Smith and Roy Eldridge before joining Monk. The last member of the band is Art Blakey on drums who had recorded before with Monk on his previous Blue Note sessions and is no stranger to the approach needed in his drumming as most of the compositions on this album are re-do's of the originals from the recordings at Blue Note in 1947 which also covered the first version of "Round Midnight" the great Jazz classic but that one does not appear here.

The album begins with "Abide By Me" but Monk does not appear to the following tune "Well You Needn't" which he recorded in those first sessions at Blue Note but this one has had horns added with Monk's beatifully played introduction and all the band coming in to state that unforgettable theme. Monk solo's at the begining and end but somebody yells "Coltrane" and with one of Art's signature drum rolls he is off on that tenor saxophone just dragging those chords in his solo and Ray gives us a great high one on trumpet. Everybody in the band has a solo with Wilbur on bass followed by Art and then Coleman Hawkins who is outstanding as much as John Coltrane and Gigi Gryce is last on alto. When this was originally recorded it was just under three minutes in length and here it has been stretched to eleven and half glorious minutes giving every musician time to solo effectively with classic results in Jazz. "Ruby My Dear" is another re-vamp with Coleman Hawkin's playing beautifully on this ballad as Monk does with just the right touch and space underneath in just a Quartet setting with the rythmn section. The next one is another one from the earlier sessions being "Off Minor" with its loopy Monk introduction played by the entire band which was only recorded as a trio originally has had new life breathed into it with the brass added as "Well You Needn't" was from this album "Monks Music' which will always be the best of all the versions for these tunes."Epistrophy" although recorded earlier at Blue Note is given another extended treatment with all the musicians having a solo with Coltrane first and Monk last and is another classic re-do. The album closer is one that Monk wrote for his wife being " Crepsicule With Nellie" which is one strange sounding tune with Monk primarily playing on his own with the band just coming in towards the end in this beautiful slow unconvential structure.

Absolute Jazz classic by one of the idioms greatest composers at his best time when he was at Riverside. I received a comment whilst "Well you Needn't" was playing today, "Oh no that will be stuck in my head all day" and one has to agree with that catchy theme which has been stuck in my head for twenty years. Jazz would not be the same without Thelonious Monk, whose compositions still ring out loud and clear today.

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