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It's Monk's Time

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Album Review

Once again, Legacy has taken one of Thelonious Monk's seminal Columbia albums — this one named for its timing with the appearance of his face upon a Time magazine cover about the same time the album was released and featuring three brand-new compositions — and given it the expert care and concern treatment, making of it, as in the case of Underground, Solo Monk, and Criss-Cross, a startlingly new document. Here are nine cuts instead of six, all of which are restored to their original lengths — space restrictions for a single LP necessitated editing on some of the tracks. In addition, there are two unreleased items in alternate take form: "Shuffle Boil" (along with "Stuffy Turkey" and "Brake's Shake," it is one the new tunes) and "Nice Work if You Can Get It." This is the Monk Quartet that featured Charlie Rouse and bassist Butch Warren, and introduced Ben Riley to the Monk fold. The new rhythmic equations Riley brought to the band are everywhere evident here, particularly in the long remake of "Epistrophy." This is an almost curious set in that it opens with two solo pieces, "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Memories of You." On the former, Monk's beginnings are revealed in his fascination with stride piano phrasing and rhythm, and in the latter, his continuing admiration of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn is on display. The way he structures his single-note runs just behind the beat so that rhythmic syntax is established before the melody comes right from the Ellington book. When the band does enter, as it does on "Stuffy Turkey" with its loping groove and blues, entire worlds have been created, destroyed, and reincarnated in another harmonic image. In addition to the extra music and fine sound, It's Monk's Time features a fine essay by piano great Dick Katz and fine session photos.


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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