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Alone in San Francisco [Import]

Thelonious Monk Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Biography

As influential as he proved to be during the final decades of his lifetime, it appears that Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-82) has only gained greater stature in the years since his death. Once considered too eccentric and complex to be appreciated by listeners and other musicians, Monk has become a standard of excellence, as both composer and soloist, for those who seek to extend the jazz ... Read more in Amazon's Thelonious Monk Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 May 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Ace Records
  • ASIN: B000026EIG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,751 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great example of the melodious thunk 2 Nov 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
"Thelonious Alone in San Francisco" is perhaps the finest of Monk's solo albums -- although Thelonious Himself and Solo Monk are also both highly recommended for Monk fans. The album features Monk on fine form, performing a mixture of originals and standards in the reverberant Fugazi Hall, also a favourite venue of the Beat Poets and namechecked in Allen Ginsberg's "Howl".

Hearing Monk play unaccompanied emphasizes both his rhythmic playfulness and his oddly beautiful harmonic approach. "Blue Monk" showcases his unorthodox take on stride piano, while his rendition of "Ruby My Dear" is my personal favourite of the countless versions available. And for collectors, it's the only chance to hear two Monk originals, "Round Lights" and "Bluehawk," as well as his gorgeous reinvention of the cheesy 1930 ballad "There's Danger In Your Eyes, Cherie."

So if you want to indulge in some quiet solitude, let Monk's music keep you company.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential 15 Feb 2004
By spiral_mind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Thelonious Sphere Monk - brilliant pianist, quirky composer. His offbeat sense of harmonics and unusual musical sensibility may have gotten him kicked out of the Julliard music school and made his material a tad skewed for the casual listener to follow - now just as much as then - but to those willing to make a little adjustment, it's the reason he's always been such a complete original. He worked chords and combinations out of a piano that no one else ever thought of. The man was brilliant in any context, but I say his solo albums are the best way of hearing an eccentric genius at work. He plays around with ideas and variations like a sculptor with clay: old standards are given a new twist, his own past songs are nudged and prodded into shapes they'd never seen before, and there's never a lack of new ideas brought to the table.
Different people's ratings of the man's albums are always individual things, but Alone in San Francisco has always been my favorite. As usual you can't always know what to expect. The mood is predominantly quiet and reflective with a touch of the blues: "Blue Monk" (go figure), "Round Lights" and "Bluehawk" are all basically blues tunes, but even within that framework the playful improv work makes them almost nothing alike. The only track that took more than one take is not a Thelonious original, but an obscure 1920s pop tune ("they won't be expecting anything like this from me," he's quoted in the liners). There's some ear-tweaking trick or quirk around every corner here. The compositions don't usually follow standard keys or modes as we know them. When there's a catchy right-hand melody being woven, the block chords underneath it follow an unusual progression that doesn't match up the way you'd expect. Even the timing's sometimes weird, as in the opening to "Everything Happens to Me".. but somehow everything sounds natural with a logic all its own, if you just listen for it.
Short but sweet at 45 minutes, more easy and accessible than some other choices (e.g. Brilliant Corners or Underground), and usually pretty well priced, this disc makes a great introduction for those new to Monk. Solo Monk also makes a worthy find in this vein since it's got more alternate takes, giving a better picture of just how unique every TM performance was, but Alone in SF has always connected with me on a more personal level. As one of the reviewers below said, it's got the perfect empty-club-at-closing-time feel; quiet but not lonely, subdued yet peaceful. This is the one to unwind with while by yourself.. or with the kind of company that doesn't mind sharing a little quiet time. Newcomers, try this or Straight, No Chaser for a good first taste. Established fans: this one shouldn't disappoint in the least.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite jazz cd 6 May 2002
By johnnyqb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There are simply no other records, to me, that capture a sense of harmony, melody, beauty, pain, loneliness, joy, all in one magical recording. This set was recorded in the afternoon between shows in San Fran. The song selection is amazing. This is a record I never put away for long. It has a magical spontaneity to it. Monk's playing is brilliant, but he has that Neil Young-type quality of being slightly flawed or imperfect in evertying he does. This is why I love his music (and Neil's too).
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best monk recording for me 20 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have quite a few monk recordings and love his work with the full groups, but I really like this recording which shows him off more than other recordings. This is the best monk solo recording vs. the two others commercially available. Also check out Mingus Plays Piano.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to hear Monk solo 27 Jan 2003
By Hank Schwab - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If you like Monk, but don't own any of his solo recordings, you need to. His playing was dramatically different without a group behind him. While his ensemble playing is wild and loose, truly improvisational, his solo playing is even and disciplined. He strikes a perfect balance between joy and melancholy. To get a true picture of Monk, you have to have his solo material.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class by himself 24 May 2008
By M. Bromberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These recordings have a richness that any Monk fan will admire: alone, with no backing musicians, Thelonious takes solo flight on his own tunes as well as some well-chosen standards. Consider the beat movement well underway in San Francisco at the time, with an emphasis on individual expression, and the album takes on classic status: as Orrin Keepnews notes, Monk was in "a predominantly lyrical and introspective mood" during these sessions, undercutting the image of the pianist as a distant and difficult artist.

There had been a solo album two years earlier, "Thelonious Himself," more angular and nearly mathematical in approach, but "Alone" is clearly romantic: "Ruby My Dear," a heartbreaking cover of "Everything Happens to Me," Irving Berlin's swooning "Remember," and a gorgeous reading of "Blue Monk" are standouts. Perhaps Monk and Riverside Records were attempting to capitalize on his newfound critical success -- and the popularity of other albums by pianists like Erroll Garner -- but "Alone in San Francisco" is Monk in his purest form. unaccompanied. It offers a chance "to hear Thelonious as he thinks and sounds when he has chosen to be ... complete in himself," as Keepnews emphasizes in the liner notes. After nearly fifty years, the album's still a beauty.
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