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Monk Alone - The Complete Columbia Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk (1962-1968)

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Album Review

As any Monk aficionado knows, his solo piano performances were wonderful, idiosyncratic, living works of art that often wound up in completely different territory from where they began. Sometimes the results would be a little shakey; often they would be inspiring. Regardless, these solo performances were adventures, and that quality makes the double disc Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Studio Recordings, 1962-1968 irresistable. Much of this music was released on such Columbia albums as Monk's Dream and Underground over the course of the '60s, but this is the first time all the material has been collected in one place and the results are frequently stunning. The first disc, plus the first two tracks on disc two, contain the master takes. The second disc is largely comprised of alternate takes — four have been released, the remaining 14 make their debut here. That's nearly a full album of "new" material and almost all of it is as compelling as the master takes. Certainly, the collection is designed for Monk completists, but even casual fans will find something to marvel at here.


Born: 10 October 1917 in Rocky Mount, NC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

The most important jazz musicians are the ones who are successful in creating their own original world of music with its own rules, logic, and surprises. Thelonious Monk, who was criticized by observers who failed to listen to his music on its own terms, suffered through a decade of neglect before he was suddenly acclaimed as a genius; his music had not changed one bit in the interim. In fact, one of the more remarkable aspects of Monk's music was that it was fully formed by 1947 and he saw no need...
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