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The Complete Prestige Recordings

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Album Review

Thelonious Monk was only with Prestige from 1952-1954, which explains why Fantasy's The Complete Prestige Recordings contains only three CDs. But Monk's Prestige output is noteworthy and generally rewarding, if imperfect at times. Not everything on The Complete Prestige Recordings is essential, but for the serious Monk collector, its rewards are great. The set gets off to an interesting start with four 1944 recordings from a Coleman Hawkins session. The material originally came out on the small Joe Davis label, but these performances are historically important because they marked the first time Monk was recorded as a sideman, and the first time that Prestige founder Bob Weinstock was exposed to Monk. The set then fast forwards to Monk's Prestige period, when he led various trios and quintets and was employed as a sideman by Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. All of disc three is devoted to 1954's historic Davis/Monk encounter; unfortunately, Davis and Monk's egos clashed, but that didn't prevent them from delivering memorable performances. The Complete Prestige Recordings isn't for casual listeners, but it has a lot more ups than downs, and is enthusiastically recommended to serious jazz collectors.

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 was that it was fully formed by 1947 and he saw no need...
Full Bio