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Ken Burns Jazz: Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk

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Album Review

In conjunction with the release of Ken Burns' ten-part, 19-hour epic PBS documentary Jazz, Columbia issued 22 single-disc compilations devoted to jazz's most significant artists, as well as a five-disc historical summary. Since the individual compilations attempt to present balanced overviews of each artist's career, tracks from multiple labels have thankfully been licensed where appropriate. Accordingly, Thelonious Monk's volume draws from his early piano trio recordings with Blue Note and his expanded ensembles and solo explorations for Riverside and Columbia. Monk frequently re-recorded many of his now-standard compositions in different formats, so it's difficult to choose definitive versions; the compilers have wisely opted to present the full spectrum of arrangement approaches Monk employed over the course of his career. Not quite all of Monk's best-known pieces are here, but the vast majority are: "Well You Needn't," "Misterioso," "Epistrophy," "Straight, No Chaser," "Ruby, My Dear," and of course "'Round Midnight." There are also excellent supplementary choices like "Brilliant Corners," which was too complicated to really become a standard (and had to be pieced together from several studio takes because the musicians never quite got through it flawlessly). Monk made a tremendous amount of brilliant, harmonically quirky music over the course of his career, and Ken Burns Jazz makes an excellent entry point for the neophyte who wants to begin exploring what Monk was all about.

Customer Reviews

The Man Who Brought Me Jazz

So, so good. I had a hard time getting started with jazz, but he brought me there. I can recognize any of his songs from just a few notes, he's that good, that distinctive. Great music to drive to, it just makes you feel good.

Biography

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...
Full Bio
Ken Burns Jazz: Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Monk
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Bop
  • Released: Nov 07, 2000

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