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Plays Duke Ellington Original recording remastered
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Top Customer Reviews
Listen. This album is a masterpiece of charm and daring, ringing
tonal joy and hard-dancing rhythmic flight. It has withstood the test
of time for over 50 years, and continues to call fresh audiences to
witness. It was the debut of one of the most versatile record labels
in all of Jazz, Riverside Records' resounding gauntlet to the world
on the power, precision, and passion of this African American-rooted
world forum. Most of all, it stands as a showcase of aesthetic nobility,
the compositional finese of Duke Ellington paid conceptual homage by
one of the few pianists who understood the impact of the Duke's many
efforts, matching it with a fierce originality all his own.
THELONIOUS MONK PLAYS DUKE ELLINGTON is a delightful portrait
of swing and intrigue, Monk crossing the tonal and atonal to deftly
weave chromatic splendor which tickles and tugs on the ear and the
mind, fingers pouring an uncanny balladry to win the soul. An
impeccable trio recording displaying the kindred wares of bassist
Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke, Monk spins enchanting
harmonic tapestries which beckon each listener's attention.
You will never hear "It Don't Mean A Swing (If It Ain't
Got That Swing)" played with such an ironically delicious sense of
freedom and groove as the High Priest delivers in the sure-rolling
scenic cruise holding court here. "Solitude", in a captivating solo
performance, conveys the significance of both loneliness and fortitude
from one who defines the meaning of marching to the beat of a different
drum.Read more ›
Absolutely not. Yes, the Ellington concept wasn't Monk's idea, but he agreed to this and the covers album that followed (both of whose songs he picked, although he learned the Ellington songs from sheet music) as a way to build an audience. Amazingly, it worked, and by the time of the first real Riverside Monk masterpiece, the immortal Brilliant Corners, people were getting into Monk.
Okay, but does the music work? Like crazy. First, note the presence of the amazing rhythm section, consisting of Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke, two musicians sympathetic to both Monk AND Duke. Secondly, don't let the sheet music comments bother you, this is Ellingtonia in Monkland. NOTHING here sounds much like Ellington, save for the majestic tone that Monk retains, but rather like fragments of melody held up to a candle and lovingly laid down as a ride down the same road (Ellington's songs) in a very different car (Monk's playing). Right off the bat, "It Don't Mean a Thing" is toned WAY down, and the melody comes across almost in Morse code. This concept continues, though instead of setting the tunes on fire as he would have at Prestige, here Monk maintains an almost religious awe throughout, a sense of feeling that really drives "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" and the solo "Solitude".Read more ›
Personally I love this album even if it strays substantially from Monk's signature sound. What Monk does manage to do, though, is to imprint the playing with his own style while paying homage to Ellington who was his idol.
Specific things about this album I love include the way the trio - comprised of Monk, Oscar Pettiford on bass and the great Kenny Clarke on drums - manages to do justice to compositions written not only for big bands, but with specific musicians in mind. Ellington always wrote for particular musicians instead of instruments, and collaborations such Caravan that Duke cowrote with Juan Tizol have Monk's unmistakable imprint while remaining true to what Duke and Tizon crafted.
Another aspect of the tracks is the beautiful way the trio manages dynamics. Of course I am speaking as a musician, but even non-musician listeners should enjoy the way Monk and his trio swing the music without getting in your face. Consider Caravan. Clarke could have raised the volume by using louder tom patterns, but opted to stick with subtle cross-sticking, and did so while maintaining a propulsive groove that is masterful in my opinion. Moreover, the interplay between and among the musicians is both sublime and beautifully done.
Despite some thinking that Orin Keepnews' conservative approach to cutting Monk's first album for Riverside subsumed Monk's style, I think Monk remained true to it. His characteristic use of space is there. The tempos Monk selected reflect his own style and interpretation of Duke's music. And the use of harmony definitely has Monk's touch.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So this isn't 180 g audiophile whatever grade, but it still sounds really great. I'm very happy with the print quality. Read morePublished 15 months ago by kelly
My dad played his music when I came home from school. Homework time was for the Monk.Published 20 months ago by Kindle Customer
I can not think of two more different high profile jazz and standards composers and performers than Monk and Ellington. Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by Eric P. Stefik
As a budding jazz listener, I heard Monk before I ever heard Duke. When I finally got around to listening to the original recording of "Cotton Tail" a few years later and I heard... Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by G B
I have worn the original LP and then a reissued LP (the Riverside Trios) out, playing this over and over through the years--always coming back to this music. Read morePublished on March 13, 2012 by Romano