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Riverside Profiles: Thelonious Monk

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Album Review

After making his first recordings for Blue Note Records in 1947, Thelonious Monk moved on to the Prestige label in the early '50s before moving on again to sign with the then-new Riverside Records in 1955. Working with producer Orrin Keepnews at Riverside, Monk produced some of his finest studio sessions during the next four years, several of which are collected here in this tightly sequenced set, which features some of the best tenor sax players bop had to offer. Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane are both on the version collected here of "Epistrophy" from 1957. Coltrane also shines on two other Monk recordings from 1957, "Well You Needn't" and the starkly beautiful "Ruby, My Dear." Johnny Griffin's tenor gives "Rhythm-A-Ning" from 1958 a solid push, as does Sonny Rollins on 1956's "Pannonica." Monk's stride-run-through-a-bop-blender piano style is also featured on two solo turns, 1957's "'Round Midnight" and 1959's "Blue Monk." In all, this is a concise introduction to one of Monk's most important periods, but the bonus disc is simply a sampler for other artists in Riverside's Profiles series, which makes this package feel a little bit like an infomercial.


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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