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The Best Of Thelonious Monk
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The Best Of Thelonious Monk

18 Mar 1991 | Format: MP3

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  • Original Release Date: 18 Mar 1991
  • Release Date: 18 Mar 1991
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • Copyright: (C) 1991 Blue Note Records
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 49:11
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001J9B0BE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,515 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Feb 2001
Format: Audio CD
This CD is a treat!
Monk's early works are full of energy, funk, humour - this guy knows how to entertain.
This CD is a great introduction to his style. His enthusiasm, sensitive and rhythmic playing, his quirky but delightful soloing all burst out.
A nice mix of songs - some ballads to contrast with the more upbeat material. Great support by the other musicians.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Tree on 22 Oct 2007
Format: Audio CD
Forgive the awful pun, but it is not too far from the mark with the man Monk. This was the first CD of his work that I bought, and it has had a great deal of hammer over the years. Blue Note was his first label, and there are some absolute classics here from earlyish BeBop 1947-51. There is an undeniable warmth, humour and quirkiness to Monk's piano that is impossible to fake. The odd bum note...deliberate or accidental? It doesn't matter, the imperfections just seem to add to the charm of these recodings. His fingers sometimes seem to almost stagger over the keys like a drunk on his way home from the pub. The odd bizarre dischord?...no it's deliberate!

Monk covered these tunes over and over again through his career, many becoming more polished and embellished, but I still come back to the honesty of these. There are simply too many highlights on here to go into individual tracks. The tunes are all played by small combos, in some cases like Ruby My Dear it's just bass and drums accompanying, but when it's the great Art Blakey drumming, what more do you need?
Mysterioso, Epistrophy, Criss Cross, Well You Needn't, Straight No Chaser, Monk's Mood, ' Round Midnight, Evidence, Four in One...I love these tunes...the man was a walking genius.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Start here with Monk! 6 Sep 2000
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the place to start if you're looking into the music of the great Thelonious Monk. Collected here are more of Monk's compositions in concentrated form than in any other place. There are many later versions of many of them, including of course by other musicians such as Steve Lacy, but these are the first recordings, the templates. You can hear the structure of the music more clearly than in any of the great Riverside records such as Brilliant Corners.

As the liner notes say, Monk's music is "always off center, but it always swings." "Well You Needn't," "In Walked Bud" and "Straight No Chaser" are up-tempo and catchy as hell -- you won't be able to get them out of your head. "Misterioso" sounds just like the title -- fractured, odd piano, and vibes. Listen closely to "Skippy" and hear why no one attempted to cover it for 30 years!

"Monk's Mood" is gorgeous, slow and romantic. I first heard it on Jack DeJohnette's "Album Album" (1984) with David Murray and John Purcell on sax, an incredible version now available in an ECM box: Jack DeJohnette Special Edition. Of course "Round Midnight" quickly became a standard, an ineffably sad ballad covered by Miles among many others.

*** *** ***

Here's a fun piece of trivia -- the recording engineer for these sessions is Harry Smith. Yes, it turns out, it is THAT Harry Smith, the guy who compiled the famous Anthology of American Folk Music, recently reissued by the Smithsonian Institute. Smith used to project light shows of his own creation as accompaniment to jazz shows in the Bay Area!
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Compelling as a listening experience: also, vital history 31 July 2002
By William E. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These are the earliest Monk recordings to be issued on CD, apparently. All but one of the 16 short pieces is a Monk original, heard here in its first recorded form. Since Monk reused his compositions time and again, with all kinds of fellow players and at widely varying lengths over more than 20 years, the real Monk fan will find this a must-own, and will compare the later versions to these performances. The songs on this disc might seem sketchy and tentative to some listeners, while others may prefer them to renditions which later doubled the length of many items. There are some sidemen present who later became quite famous, such as Art Blakey on drums and Milt Jackson on vibes, but these late-40's releases are worth having because of the odd, interesting compositions and Monk's own evident talent. If you are a casual jazz fan who wants some Thelonious in the home collection, but who cares not for the historic value of the first records by a genius, try "Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins" or "Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane" first. Those are even better than this for pure listening pleasure. If you can afford this one as your third Monk disc, you won't be sorry.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Thelonious Monk is at his sparse, melodic best. 6 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There is only one standout on these recordings: Thelonious Monks beautiful melodic structures. The recording quality, especially the bass, is not stellar. The accompanying musicians, excepting Monk, Blakey and Milt Jackson are so-so. It's the melodies, chord structures and progressions that make you just love listening to this CD over and over again. The way he purposely plays what most consider "wrong" notes to emphasize a statement or simply just to defy the normal route our ears hear to resovle a phrase. Because of the less than stellar musicians I believe this forces the artist to guide our ears along to hear what he hears in his head but this also creates such warmth, as in Ruby My Dear and In Walked Bud etc. that I get the impression that we are listening in on session in which Monk is working out the details - it shows the creative evolvement of his line of thought. His line of thought is unique and awesome. And if for some stupid reason you believe rumors that have stated: Monk doesn't really know music theory and can't really play, then, I suggest you pick up Charlie Christian Live At Minton's (which is rippin Charlie Christian) but also is a blazing Thelonius (and Gillespie!).
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Flawless 8 July 2000
By Colley Wilkes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There are so many beautiful mommments to choose from on this absolutely perfect album...it is the epitome of balance and grace in music.At one time or another, every track here has been my favorite one, depending on mood and circumstance....to give you an idea, I first owned this on cassete, and played it so much that I wore all of the writing off the surface.If forced to choose, I'd have to recommend 'Skippy' and 'In Walked Bud' as the two most representive tracks, simply because they put to rest that long standing fallacy that Monk lacked 'technique'.And of course 'round midnight', which somehow manages to be incredibly sad without being at all depressing.But if you really want a glimpse of Monks unparalleled ability to express emotional depth with a single, perfectly placed note or phrase....just listen to the last little run he tacks onto the end of 'April in Paris' after one of his trademarked pregnant pauses....beautiful beyond the power of words to describe....
Five stars is about nine hundred ninety five to few.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Superb 25 Feb 2004
By Mick_Under the Influence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Thelonius Monk is a rare artist, an artist's artist, and this album documents thoroughly the talents displayed by Monk in his early years of recording (late 1940's and early 1950's). A jazz pianist prodigy, schooled and influenced by stride, Monk instantly gravitated to the experimentalist Jazz scene known at that time as Bop. A man of many eccentricities, the most important of which was that Monk tickled the ivories like no other. When you think you've heard it all, again and again, Monk is one of the few that really stands apart.

What more can be said that has not been said by the other reviewers. Perhaps this album is not the ideal for the casual Jazz fan, wanting a taste of Monk from time to time. But its hard to imagine a Jazz piano enthusiast that won't be desiring more and more of his works with the passing of time. Purchase this album and you'll hear Bop in it's infancy. You'll hear Jazz legends such as Art Blakey, Lou Donaldson, Max Roach and Milt Jackson.

This is my personal favorite of all the Monk albums of the dozen or so in my collection despite it having the poorest recording quality. Most of the pieces on this album were re-worked/recorded and inlcuded on later albums with playing time doubled or better. Yet the shorter, original versions seem to capture the essence of each work with no musical verbosity or drowning of that rythym/melody that makes them each so special.

Despite the poor quality of sound, I couldn't find it in my power to rate this album any less than five. The rythyms are just too catchy and unique to give it any less. For someone wanting a video glimpse of the person, Thelonius Monk, check out the authentic shoot "Straight, No Chaser".
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