Thelonious Monk

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COMPOSERS: Thelonious Monk,Various
LABELS: Blue Note
WORKS: Complete Blue Note Recordings
PERFORMER: Thelonious Monk (p); various, including Kenny Dorham (t), Lou Donaldson (as), John Coltrane (ts), Lucky Thompson (ts), Milt Jackson (vb), Art Blakey (d)


Thelonious Monk’s compositions were both distinctive and complex, his chord progressions among the most difficult on which to base a coherent improvisation; yet, ‘Round Midnight’ ‘Well, You Needn’t’ and ‘Straight, No Chaser’ (all included here) are jazz standards. Monk as pianist is one of the most original of all jazz improvisers. Contrary to the prevailing trend of brilliant virtuosos such as Parker and Gillespie, Monk was no virtuoso. Yet the jagged lines and uneven contours of his playing seem like an extension of his compositions and were just as daring and unexpectedly right. It is no exaggeration to say that the music on these disc sounds ‘modern’ 40 years after they were recorded; indeed, they number among the most significant recordings of this century. Stuart Nicholson