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Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall

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Audio CD, September 27, 2005
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Product Description

This never-before heard jazz classic documents one of the most historically important working bands in all of Jazz history, a band that was both short-lived and, until now, thought to be frustratingly under-recorded. The concert, which took place at the famed New York hall on November 29, 1957, was preserved on newly-discovered tapes made by Voice of America for a later radio broadcast that were located at the Library of Congress in Washington DC earlier this year. Blue Note. 2005.

Every year sees a crop of newly found jazz gems, but rarely are listeners treated to anything as special as this 1957 concert recording of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, which was accidentally discovered in an unmarked box by a Library of Congress engineer early in 2005. Until now, fans could only dream of hearing these two immortals play together beyond the three studio tracks they left behind. But here they are, hitting their stride at an all-star benefit concert, basking in the chemistry they had developed in Monk's quartet during the preceding weeks at New York's Five Spot. Coltrane's playing is a revelation. He's both an inspired accompanist and a galvanizing soloist, taking the music to new heights with his bold, brilliantly challenging, and sometimes jaw-dropping phrases, note clusters, and blasts of power. Sharing with Coltrane a newfound sense of freedom following the personal and professional troubles that had plagued them both, Monk is clearly tickled to be in the tenorist's presence, injecting humorous commentaries and otherwise asserting his eccentric genius as a pianist. The material, which was very well recorded by the Voice of America, includes Monk classics like "Epistrophy," "Monk's Moods," and "Evidence," as well as a striking rendition of the standard "Sweet and Lovely." This is music that not only bears repeated listenings, but also demands them--the ultimate definition of a classic. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B000AV2GCE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,493 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

504 of 515 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Fineberg on September 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
With so many things going wrong in the world, it's nice to see one important thing going right-- a certain Mr. Applebaum stumbles onto the recordings at the Library of Congress in January, a crack team spends the better part of the year restoring and remastering, and Blue Note and Thelonious Records put out the CD in September. The music on the CD is astonishing, and the quality of the recording is pristine beyond anyone's expectations. You could not cook up a sweeter story: for almost 50 years, we've heard the complaints that Monk and Coltrane's 5-month partnership was criminally underrecorded due to "non-musical conflicts" - the five glorious tracks put out by Riverside, and some pitifully recorded sets from the Five Spot Cafe were all that came out of it. Such a lost opportunity, particularly for Coltrane fans, because it was well-known (though not well-documented) that the saxophonist--his style, his musical conception--became totally liberated by the challenge of playing Monk's compositions with Monk.

This is the fabled document that everyone was desperate to hear, and it seems so improbable that it should appear so suddenly, so without incident, like any common reissue, that the built-up anticipation may at first occlude the actual material on the disc. But listen twice, and then three times, and then more...

You will hear John Coltrane surging forth, taking a quantum leap from the shaky but determined voice of Miles Davis' early quintet to the astonishing technique that would lead him into "Giant Steps", into his next work with Miles, and into the 1960s, where--though the charm of many of those recordings has worn off a bit for me--he became a prophet for so many musicians, and not just saxophone players.
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312 of 321 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Recently it seems stunning jazz recordings have been unearthed every few months-- this piece, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane from Carnegie Hall on November 29, 1957, is another such piece.

A bit of historical context for the those unaware-- in 1957, Coltrane was thrown out of Miles Davis' band for heroin use. He managed to kick his habit and ended up joining Thelonious Monk for study and an extended residency at the Five Spot, then a club in Manhattan. Listeners testify that Trane was pretty out of place at the beginning, but that by the end of their time there (several months, several nights a week), Trane was on fire, pushing himself and the leader. These shows were sadly totally undocumented, the only evidence of the two of them working together (prior to this release) was a brief studio session (three tunes, if I recall) from 1957 and a low fidelity recording from 1958 where Coltrane sat in with Monk's band. In late November of 1957, towards the end of his residency at the Five Spot, Monk was invited to perform at an all-star benefit fundraiser at Carnegie Hall. This performance was recorded by something called the Voice of America and recently unearthed in the Library of Congress archives by recording lab supervisor Larry Appelbaum and prepared for release by producer Michael Cuscuna (famous for his restorative work on Blue Note, Impulse! and his own Mosaic label) and Monk's son, drummer T.S. Monk.

Monk's performance consisted of two brief sets (each around 25 minutes, although the second one cuts off early) with his working quartet from the Five Spot gig-- the leader on piano, Coltrane on tenor sax, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass and Shadow Wilson on drums.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Terry R. Hummer on October 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
WOW! This album is everything they are saying and then some. Consider: Monk is playing a Carnegie Hall grand piano. Repeat that phrase to yourself in capital letters, with six exclamation points at the end. It matters. You never heard him sound so fantastic. You realize that the pianos you've heard him record on before are OK instruments, in tune and so on, but this is a PIANO. And he sounds, well, grand. And you can hear him loving sounding grand. Monk is magnificent here. He begins the first tune, "Monk's Mood," solo, sounding like God. And then Coltrane comes in--and he sounds like God too. And why not? It's that glorious year, 1957, the year of Lush Life; Trane is suddenly Trane, and he knows it. You can hear that he knows it. He's stretching and bending like a gymnast; he can do anything he wants to do. Six months earlier, that was not the case. BUT ALSO: his tone is gorgeous. Later, in the famous quartet, his sound changes, becomes harder, steelier, more incisive, a little "uglier." I use that adjective advisedly. But in 1957, there's still Lester in his sound. Compared to most other players of the time (except for Don Byas and all Don Byas-ites), his tone sound pretty stripped down, but compared to later Trane he still sounds fat, and still employs vibrato (though lightly and shallowly). This is what I like about Trane in 1957; it's what makes Lush Life such a great album: the tone. Tone, tone, tone; Ben Webster taught us it's all about tone, even if what you play is stupid (as Webster sometimes was, when he was drunk). Trane was always absolutely conscious of the implications of tone, which is why he changed later. He learned from Bird how to strip it down, cut out the fat, which is also to cut out a certain kind of sonic richness, in the interest of something else.Read more ›
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Copy protection - grrr!
just rip your copy on a stand alone burner (non-computer), then you can download onto your ipod
May 11, 2006 by L.C. Crane |  See all 6 posts
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Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
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