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Monk's Mood

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Album Review

The music on this disc has been offered under a plethora of titles. However, regardless of how they might be presented, the fact remains that these are among Thelonious Monk's most seminal sides during his brief stint (1952-1954) as a bandleader for Prestige. In a fit of irony, the would-be title track, "Monk's Mood," isn't among the seven originals included here. This oversight is more than made up for in regards to the definitive bop that is included. In addition to the strength of Monk's originals, the personnel is key to the success of these masterworks and primary examples of the bebop jazz subgenre. Monk's often lop-sided rhythms and seemingly atonal performance style is immeasurably strengthened by the support of his sidemen. The ten pieces featured here are taken from three sessions. Chronologically, these include Monk's first two recording dates — on October 15 and December 18, 1952, respectively. The personnel for the first (October 15) includes the trio of Garry Mapp (bass), Art Blakey (drums), and Monk, while the second (December 18) features Max Roach (drums). The final date in September of 1954 replaces Blakey and adds Percy Heath (bass). Each of the performances delineate Monk's uncanny ability to indelibly personalize not only his own compositions, but also the cover versions of pop standards "These Foolish Things," "Sweet & Lovely," and especially his practically indescribable touch on the piano solo rendition of "Just a Gigolo." There is quite literally no subpar material or uninspired performances on Monk's Moods. Even tracks carried over from his prior Blue Note repertoire — such as "Reflections" or the charmingly descriptive "Trinkle Tinkle" — are replete with brilliant playing and sensitive interaction from the respective quintets.


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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