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  • Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (20 Bit Master)
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Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (20 Bit Master) Original recording remastered

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 16, 2004
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1. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
2. Sophisticated Lady
3. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
4. Black And Tan Fantasy
5. Mood Indigo
6. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
7. Solitude
8. Caravan

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Riverside
  • ASIN: B0001I2C52
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #859,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on October 31, 2005
Format: Audio CD
In 1955, Thelonious Monk began his long association with Riverside Records-- he'd go on to record fifteen albums with the label over the next six years. The first album, on the insistence of the label, found Monk, the most important composer of his generation, exploring the music of the previous generation's most important composer, Duke Ellington. Eight Ellington standards, seven with a trio including bassist Oscar Peterson and drummer Kenny Clarke and one solo piano piece, are given readings.

The result is somewhat unexpected for those familiar with Monk's work-- by and large, many of the "Monkisms" are noticably absent on here-- the stride influence in his sound is subdued, the staggered start-stop lines tend not to surface, and the linear piano runs he was fond of do not make appearances. In their place, Monk performs in a positively inside manner, owing more to Ellington and his contemporaries than anything else. On occasion ("Mood Indigo"), his peculiarities as a pianist come forth, but by and large, its a pretty subdued effort.

Mind you, it's not a bad one, the performance is fantastic-- particularly from Pettiford who is all over and solos brilliantly on several tunes ("It Don't Mean a Thing", "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart"), and Monk manages to both capture the original mood of pieces (a lyrical take on "Sophisticated Lady") and capture something new (his oddly optimistic yet melancholy reading of "Black and Tan Fantasy"). And of course, Monk's solo piano reading of "Solitude" is nothing short of staggering.
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Format: Audio CD
I love this album because I have the same love of Ellington that Monk had, and Monk is one of my three most favorite pianists. So in my case this is - and always shall be - a favorite.

At the time of this review there are no sound samples on this product page. You can, however, listen to them on the MP3 version of this album at Plays Duke Ellington [Keepnews Collection] .Those tell a rich story about the album each sound snippet conveys the essence of Monk on each track. Let your ears guide you because it's the music that will make or break your listening experience. The sound quality on this remastered disc is superb.

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.
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