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.