8 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The year 1957 was momentous for Thelonious Monk. His third album for Riverside, Brilliant Corners, had become his most widely celebrated album to date. Featuring Sonny Rollins and Max Roach, it was his first Riverside work to utilize horns and highlight original compositions. In April, he would make his first-ever all-solo recording, but for one of those tracks, “Monk’s Mood,” the pianist insisted on the inclusion of tenor sax. The first Miles Davis Quintet had just dissolved, so John Coltrane was asked to play, sparking a vital but short-lived partnership between two of jazz’s true iconoclasts. Though Trane played extensively in Monk’s regular quartet throughout the year, they only entered the studio together on two further occasions, one of them the June septet sessions that spawned this triumph. At producer Orrin Keepnews’s behest, Monk fleshed out his band to include trumpet, alto, and second tenor, none other than Coleman Hawkins. With Hawk (his old mentor) and Trane (his new pupil), Monk had the preeminent saxophonist from the pre-bop and the post-bop eras — and a nice bit of symmetry. Of the album’s five original compositions, only the wonderfully meandering, oblique “Crepuscule With Nellie” was unveiled here, but the older Monk staples benefit from the expansiveness of the septet arrangements, the group’s well-conceived improvisations, and Art Blakey’s shrewd percussion.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The year 1957 was momentous for Thelonious Monk. His third album for Riverside, Brilliant Corners, had become his most widely celebrated album to date. Featuring Sonny Rollins and Max Roach, it was his first Riverside work to utilize horns and highlight original compositions. In April, he would make his first-ever all-solo recording, but for one of those tracks, “Monk’s Mood,” the pianist insisted on the inclusion of tenor sax. The first Miles Davis Quintet had just dissolved, so John Coltrane was asked to play, sparking a vital but short-lived partnership between two of jazz’s true iconoclasts. Though Trane played extensively in Monk’s regular quartet throughout the year, they only entered the studio together on two further occasions, one of them the June septet sessions that spawned this triumph. At producer Orrin Keepnews’s behest, Monk fleshed out his band to include trumpet, alto, and second tenor, none other than Coleman Hawkins. With Hawk (his old mentor) and Trane (his new pupil), Monk had the preeminent saxophonist from the pre-bop and the post-bop eras — and a nice bit of symmetry. Of the album’s five original compositions, only the wonderfully meandering, oblique “Crepuscule With Nellie” was unveiled here, but the older Monk staples benefit from the expansiveness of the septet arrangements, the group’s well-conceived improvisations, and Art Blakey’s shrewd percussion.

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