Thelonious Monk – Monk Alone: The Complete Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk 1962-1968
Monk is the champion AND the best.
I can happily listen to anything he ever did, and be happy. But I’m especially fond of this collection of solo recordings.
Monk solo is a delight. All that old stride influence in the left hand, and all that angular, modern, eccentrically chromatic and re-harmonized childlike weirdness in the right. Just awesome.
Favorite track here is hands down his version of “Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea.” It’s just so … Monk.
Thelonious Monk – Plays Duke Ellington
It’s a sad and beautiful world, isn’t it? And a strange one, that at one time Monk should have been thought so difficult, that he had to be made to play Ellington to get a record out.
That wouldn’t prove to be a problem, of course, because Monk loved Ellington, though he preferred his own compositions by and large—and rightly so.
Given the incomparable richness of these recordings, it’s hard to remember sometimes it’s just a trio:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Oscar Pettiford – bass
Kenny Clarke – drums
The album is honestly perfection, but it’s also a “bridge” record between his early Blue Note days, and the still-two-albums-away Brilliant Corners—a certified masterpiece.
Ultimately, the record is an exquisite opportunity to kick back and swing with the greatest playing the greatest.