THELONIOUS MONK — Brilliant Corners (review)

THELONIOUS MONK — Brilliant Corners album cover Album · 1957 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Amilisom
If I made a list of my favorite jazz pianists, Thelonious Monk would be very far down on the list, if on it at all. His tone is terribly sharp and percussive and his style is random and lacks continuity, both of these enhanced by his perceived lack of control over his instrument. Many internet lists rank this as one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded, but I could never understand why when first listening through it.

And yet, I keep finding myself coming back to this album. Somehow, through all the unusual twists and turns that this album takes the listener on there is magic present that has a way of sticking with the listener across time. I eventually gave in, and admitted that this is a jazz masterpiece.

The sound of this album is unique from beginning to end. It opens with the title track "Brilliant Corners", a tune that gives the listener a feeling of somebody carrying something heavy. Following that is "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are", a blues track that swings slow and heavy as well. "Pannonica" is something really special in my opinion. On this, Thelonious Monk doubles on piano and celesta, which adds a really great sound to this tune. "I Surrender, Dear" begins with Monk playing solo piano the whole time. Despite the fact that Monk's sound is terribly unorthodox, this track holds many creative elements. Ending the album is "Bemsha Swing", a rather catchy medium swing tune where Max Roach adds timpani to the mix, using it to construct a rather interesting drum solo.

It took me months to realize it, but this is a masterpiece. Hopefully others can experience this as I have.
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