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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monk's musical comeback
Definitely not what you'd label as an inaccessible album, this album (which counts "Ugly Beauty", Monk's only recorded waltz-time piece, among its works) constitutes in essence a musical comeback for Monk, who at the time had not released any albums with more than four original compositions since the mid-fifties (more than a decade before).
It's packed with...
Published on September 12, 2003 by Manny Hernandez

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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great stuff, some so-so.
Thelonious Monk entered the studio in late 1967 and early 1968 for the last time with his long-standing quartet of Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass) and Ben Riley (drums) to record a new album, an album that would be new in more ways then one-- no less than four new Monk compositions were debuted on this record, and in retrospect, it appears to be a fine swan...
Published on October 6, 2005 by Michael Stack


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monk's musical comeback, September 12, 2003
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
Definitely not what you'd label as an inaccessible album, this album (which counts "Ugly Beauty", Monk's only recorded waltz-time piece, among its works) constitutes in essence a musical comeback for Monk, who at the time had not released any albums with more than four original compositions since the mid-fifties (more than a decade before).
It's packed with works that range from melancholic and blue ("Easy Street") to joyful ("Green Chimneys"); from "simple" and straightforward (such as the opening track, which actually dates a couple of decades before) to complex and filled with accents (such as "Boo Boo's Birthday.")
All in all, it's an exquisite work of music that you can tap your day away to or sit down and listen carefully to in order to disect it in detail.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic of classics in Jazz, October 10, 2006
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This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
Amazon lists this as # 24 in his catalog of albums. I think this is by far one of his best, at least a top 5, as for me this is my favorite of all my 20+ Monk albums. Green Chimneys, In Walked Bud and Boo Boo's birthday are among some of the best songs he has ever written. This era in Monks music had his best line up of musicians including Charlie Rouse and Ben Riley. If you know your Jazz you will know what a great album this is. If you are just starting a Jazz collection, this is a great addition. If you are new to Monk, try a Greatest Hits. The bonus tracks are a great bonus.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant work, excellent sound quality, August 6, 2005
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This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
I got this CD as a gift -- this was my introduction to Monk. First couple times I listened to it, I was shocked with his unique style, with his approach to jazz, and with his compositions. The quality of this record is nothing short of stellar. Monk sounds fresh and energized. He seems to be very well-synchronized with the rest of his band, and they make magic. Every musician on this recording is terrific. The rhythm section is solid. The bass player does a few improvisations, especially on Ugly Beauty and Green Chimneys, and it is something you don't hear much of, at least not of this quality. These guys don't miss a beat. Monk is a truly creative player and composer, and this recording really showcases that.

I don't suggest this record as an introduction to jazz, but if you enjoy jazz, this is a good place to start with Monk's work, in my opinion. You may not get into this record until you make a couple passes at listening to it and possibly listening to other good jazz in between different attempts at this record. I feel that listening to Miles Davis really helped me appreciate Monk even more, as weird as this sounds.

I just love this CD. I especially enjoy listening to it over a great pair of headphones because it makes you feel like it's just you and them, without any kind of disturbances or sounds from the outside to distract you from catching and enjoying every tune that emanates from this record.

Buy this remastered version with extra tracks. The sound couldn't be better, and the extra tracks provide more takes of the great tunes that appeared originally on this record.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underground Thelonious, December 20, 2005
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
The remastered sound of Underground's reissue is much cleaner and crisper. The songs were restored to the original recorded length and there are a few bonus tracks added. Oh yeah, the album cover is clearer and closer (which is very important).

I agree with the reviewers that say this is not Monk at his peak, but regardless of that, I think this is one of his best albums. The musicians sound like they are having fun performing and the relaxed approach to the recording takes away from some of the intensity sometimes expressed in some of the classic Monk albums.

There are some nifty liner notes including an explanation behind the album cover and the story surrounding the making of the album.

(about the editing)

I somewhat prefer the edited versions of these songs from the previous release because the songs feel concise to the compositions. That may upset some jazz purists, but frankly a decent solo can get lost in the translation of the recording and end up hurting the overall performance and composition. I think back in those days the musicians expected the solos to get edited (it was a natural part of the recording process). These "unedited" versions that we hear in these re-issues are not necessarily what the musicians intended as the final versions.

Overall, Thelonious Monk's Underground is a terrific album; one of his best and I highly recommend checking it out- edited or unedited.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best of the Best, September 30, 2005
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
I'm simply dumbstruck that as of Oct 2005, only two people have reviewed this album to date. Browsing through various Monk albums on Amazon, it seems most have relatively few reviews. I can't understand this.

If I were stranded on a desert island and could bring a single album with me, I wouldn't hesitate about the composer: Thelonious Monk. Perhaps one of the least appreciated and most misunderstood geniuses of our time (up there with Bela Bartok and Frank Zappa), Monk is simply the greatest of them all to my mind.

(...)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viva La Monk!, January 23, 2006
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
Monk is in top form here. leading his band up and down a winding path full of prosperous improvisational detours and stopping at melodic landmarks all along the way. i love Underground because not only are the songs so well performed and such a great example of Monk's complicated-yet-catchy style of writing; but also because the controversial cover image is a reminder of Monk's great sense of humour. and i have to admit that i am not a big fan of vocal jazz, but Jon Hendricks performance on "In Walked Bud" is one of the highlights of this album! hard to believe that he came up with that lyric line on the spot, but...wow!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look At That Cover! How Could You Not Buy This?, March 27, 2008
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This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
"Underground" was released on Columbia Records in 1968 and stands as Thelonious' last great recording. In fact if I'm not mistaken this was one of his last recordings before his retirement. His last tour was in 1971, so this record has to be one of the last. Columbia also dropped Monk from the label in the next couple following years following this record.

For me, "Underground" is one of his best recordings right next to "Straight, No Chaser," "Monk's Dream," "Criss Cross" and 'Monk's Music." These albums are essential Monk so you've got to pick them up too! Many people brag about "Brilliant Corners" and while it's good, it's nowhere near as good as 'Underground" or any of the others I mentioned.

His quartet for this recording is Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Larry Gales on bass, Ben Riley on drums, and a guest apprearance by vocalist Joe Hendricks who, like another reviewer mentioned already, ruined the flow of the songs. Thankfully, Hendricks is on only one song "In Walked Bud," which thankfully he's done better versions on other albums, so I just skip that track, although it does have some tasty piano work from Monk on it. How about just skipping the vocal part and get to the improvisations for that tune? That's what you should do.

Anyway, Monk's regular quartet at the time was far and away his best group. For a little more detailed opinion of this particular group check out my "Straight, No Chaser" review.

All of the songs herein are great. As many have already mentioned, there's several new Monk compositions that standout being "Boo Boo's Birthday," which has to be one of the coolest bebop tunes ever written...well maybe next to Bobby Timmons' "Dat Dere." That one was good too!

If you're already a Monk fan then you probably already own this, but if you're new to Monk, then this record or "Straight, No Chaser" would be the best places to start exploring the work of this jazz innovator.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great times with jagged lines of the true genious..., April 13, 2008
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
Brilliant album, although by some opinions not essential in the magnificent Thelonious Monk's opus, contains strong trio and quartet performances by the group that includes the great Charlie Rouse, another voice of the leader's musical mind,and equally impressive and coherent bass and drums players...

For the reasons of variety and additional spice, Jon Hendricks' vocal on In Walked Bud (a true jazz-standard) is well executed and very wellcome, although it doesn't elevate the band's performance as I have hoped. However, not much elevation is needed here.

This album is a pure joy and as for the cover... Well, see for your self. Where can I buy a poster of this picture?

p.s. if you have the edition with bonus tracks, it's neither a plus nor minus in the overall picture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost his best, but not quite..., June 13, 2008
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This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
I still maintain that Monk's best album is "Straight, No Chaser." That being said, the same personnel are on this album, and it is a darn good one. My favorites are "Boo-Boo's birthday," "Raise Four," "Easy Street," the self-titled "Thelonious," and "In walked Bud." That about covers the entire album, but it shows how versatile Monk was. I don't include "Green Chimneys" because that is also in "Straight No Chaser." One word about the last song, there are extended solos in this version.

Overall, I'd rate this album my third favorite: behind "Straight No Chaser" and "Monk and Coltrane at Carnegie Hall." The artwork in this album alone is out of this world. I'd include it in your must-have Monk albums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, January 26, 2010
This review is from: Underground (Audio CD)
John Coltrane said if you lost count playing with Monk, you walked into an open elevator shaft.

Monk's note and chord placement was so obtuse, it was immediately identifiable as Monk. Underground covers tracks Monk had done before. You have to admire his stedfastness in 1967. Him playing this music in the context of free jazz, soul jazz and Mingus and Don Ellis experiemts is not regressive or conservative. It is Monk doing what he did best--being Monk.

And the vocals on "In Walked Bud" are incredible.
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Underground
Underground by Thelonious Monk (Audio CD - 2003)
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