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Thelonious Monk

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Album Review

Any Thelonious Monk album that kicks off with a seven-minute version of "Blue Monk" is worth listening to. Backed alternately by bassists Percy Heath and Gary Mapp and drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach, Monk unleashes his idiosyncratic piano lines against a spare backdrop. Beautifully rendered, the opening piece is a highlight of the album, oddly combining disharmonic riffs within a melodic and very memorable structure. It's followed, surprisingly, by a rather tepid version of "Just a Gigolo," more lounge than jazz in execution. The set picks up again, however, on "Bemsha Swing" and later with a noisy "Little Rootie Tootie," another fascinating study in dissonance with some great drum work by Blakey. Because the album was pieced together from three different sessions, it's often difficult to identify the supporting players on individual cuts. Nonetheless, the small settings used on all ten pieces feature intricate interplay between bass, drums, and piano. They allow the necessary space for Monk's explorations, which conjure up images of a mathematician working out geometric patters on the keyboard. While mathematical music may sound a bit cold and soulless, pieces like "Monk's Dream" and "Trinkle Tinkle" evoke a sublime beauty as they build order out of chaos. Intimate, intense, and inspired, Thelonious Monk Trio offers 35 minutes of professional musicians practicing their craft. [The Swing reissue was remastered by Joe Tarantino and hit stores in 1982.] ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Customer Reviews


lis-ten: make an effort to hear. 2: take notice of; heed.


Born: October 10, 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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