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Solo Monk

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Album Review

The mystery and haunting angular beauty of Thelonious Monk's unadorned keyboard sides are the focus of Solo Monk. As if possessing the history of jazz in his hands, Monk's solo recordings and performances from every phase of his career remain pure. The components of what made Monk such an uncompromising composer, arranger, and especially bandmember are evident in every note he plays. The disc includes both Monk originals as well as several covers of pop music standards. A majority of these sides were cut during a West Coast swing in late-October/early-November 1964. This highly productive jaunt would likewise yield two live releases: Live at the It Club and Live at the Jazz Workshop; both would feature Monk's quartet. On an emotional level, however, these sides arguably surpass many of the band recordings. "Sweet and Lovely" contains several passages that are played with the command and intensity usually demanded of a classical work. The intense yet sophisticated chord progressions that punctuate "Ruby, My Dear" transform what once were simple pop melodies into unaccompanied rhapsodies. Monk transforms the solitude of "Everything Happens to Me" into a minor bop masterpiece replete with his signature disjointed phrasings and variable pacing. The 1992 CD reissue added one bonus track — a Monk original titled "Introspection" — which now closes the collection. Parties interested in a more complete retrospective of Thelonious Monk's '60s solo recordings should also check out Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Piano Recordings 1962-1968.

Customer Reviews

Solo Monk -A Must

Although all of these tracks are also included on the Monk Alone collection, this album is a fantastic set that culls the best of all Monk's
solo Columbia work. While both albums are necessary for the Monk lover, this is the album those of us who actually remember the '60s bought
(or in my case, noticed because my brother was a Monk fan) and the only solo Monk set available for years. Although most of his catalog is
now out again, this is still the solo album I go to again and again, mostly due to the superb sound of the old Columbia recordings and
Monk's obvious comfort in his surroundings. Well worth the price, even if you already own the Monk Alone album...

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