Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano); Ernie Henry (alto saxophone); Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone); Joe Gordon, Ray Copeland (trumpet); Kenny Clarke, Shadow Wilson (drums); Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone); Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone); Thad Jones (cornet); Max Roach, Art Blakey (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Kirk Felton.
Liner Note Author: Chip Stern.
Recording information: Reeves Sound Studios, New York, NY (07/21/1955-05/29/1960); The Blackhawk, San Francisco, CA (07/21/1955-05/29/1960); Van Gelder Studios, Hackensack, NJ (07/21/1955-05/29/1960).
Author: Blind Willie Johnson.
A truly distinctive performer in both his musical style and his personality, Thelonious Monk is inarguably the most important pianist/composer in post-bop jazz. Although Monk's late-1940s and early-'50s recordings for Blue Note display his bebop roots, they also reveal his own utterly unique musical vocabulary, which he expanded upon during his revered mid-to-late-1950s sessions for Riverside Records. This collection presents a handful of tracks from these revered Riverside albums, including a playful 1957 solo version of his classic "'Round Midnight," which highlights Monk's percussive piano technique. Other tracks on THE BEST OF THELONIOUS MONK feature a number of jazz greats, particularly the stellar lineup that includes drummer Art Blakey and saxophonists John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins on the bouncy "Off Minor" and the swinging "Well, You Needn't," both from '57's MONK'S MUSIC. Boasting crisp, remastered sound, this 2004 compilation is an ideal introduction to Monk's peak years.