Monk's Music 20 Bit Mastering
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Simply stated, this remastered CD contains some of the most memorable interpretations of Monk's music ever recorded. The original cover of Monk sitting in a little red wagon reminds us that, in 1957, he was still considered eccentric by the mainstream. The presence of elder statesman Coleman Hawkins in the horn section (along with John Coltrane and Gigi Gryce), however, indicated that the transition to bebop was now complete. Versions of well-known Monk compositions "Well, You Needn't," "Epistrophy," and "Off Minor" are played with a spirited flourish, with the occasional misstep only making the overall effect even more exciting. Though not fluent, Hawkins nonetheless proves himself conversant with the new vernacular, Coltrane blows with increasingly confident brio, and Monk's playing throughout is exceptional. --Wally Shoup
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So, with all that said, let's get down to the review itself. Monk's Music is an excellent recording. As I have already stated, I have issues calling any of his albums his "best" per se, but it's an amazing work with some high-profile guest stars, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, and John Coltrane (my favorite artist ever) among them. And they don't screw around, either. These guys mean business, especially the sax players. Hawkins converts "Ruby My Dear" into a lovely, highly emotional experience, and Coltrane lets loose on "Well, You Needn't", my personal favorite Monk tune, showing a rarely seen fun side of him - there are also memorable trumpet (from Ray Copeland) and alto sax (courtesy of Gigi Gryce) solos, but in the end, Coltrane carries the tune away, as he does on pretty much everything he plays. And while everyone plays fantastically on "Epistrophy", to me Copeland's the main selling point, since I find the trumpet the ideal instrument to play the melody on that. But Art Blakey's solo on it is quite impressive, too. Meanwhile, it's Thelonious himself who makes "Off Minor" what it is, playing an unforgettably dissonant solo. The last song, "Crepuscule with Nellie", marks Gryce's time to shine, and he really does - to me, the alto sax is the instrument closest to the human voice, and his interpretation fits the song's lyrical melody. And bassist Wilbur Ware may sit in the background, but he also does a fine job of keeping the whole thing from going totally insane. The only tune I'm not into is "Abide with Me", which is kinda cheesy, but at least it's short. To top it off, the goofy cover art is definitely a winner.
Many of Monk's records are essentials: "brilliant corners",the two Blue Note volumes,"criss cross",the London solo and trio sessions,the Columbia solos,etc,etc.This one isn't the first one to buy,it's just necessary to have.