Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano); Sonny Rollins, Frank Foster (tenor saxophones); Ray Copeland (trumpet); Julius Watkins (French horn); Percy Heath, Curly Russell (bass); Willie Jones, Art Blakey (drums).
Recorded November 13, 1953 at WOR Studios, New York City and May 11, 1954 at Rudy Van Gelder's, Hackensack, New Jersey. Originally released on Prestige (7053). Includes original liner notes by Ira Gitler.
Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano).
Audio Remasterer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Liner Note Authors: Ira Gitler; Rudy Van Gelder.
As was often the case during the early days of jazz recordings, these six selections (seven, if you count the two attempts at "Think of One") were released under a myriad of names, among them WE SEE, THE GOLDEN MONK, and simply MONK--with the assembled musicians credited as the Thelonious Monk Quintet. Monk can be heard supported by two distinct outfits during these, his respective second and third outings as a bandleader on the Prestige label. Taken chronologically, "Let's Call This" and both versions of "Think of One" were documented on November 13, 1953, with Monk (piano), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Julius Watkins (French horn), Percy Heath (bass), and Willie Jones (drums). The other four cuts come from a confab involving Monk, Frank Foster (tenor sax), Ray Copeland (trumpet), Curly Russell (bass), and Art Blakey (drums) circa May 11, 1954.
Parties familiar with Monk and Rollins' individual work from around the same era can attest that "Think of One" never really jells, even though Rollins and Watkins turn in well above average performances. The fact that there were two separate attempts at the piece points to the presumption that the musicians weren't totally satisfied--but they shouldn't be considered as disposable, either, as Monk keeps the proceedings lively and is certainly in sync with the band (particularly Rollins, with whom he shares an innate rhythmic sense). The results of the subsequent date are comparatively solid throughout, with Monk and company demonstrating their ability to vacillate between the ultra-sublime update of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and the hardcore bop of "Locomotion" and "Hackensack." Those interested in locating all of Monk's recordings during his tenure on Prestige--including the rest of the November 1953 session--should check out THE COMPLETE PRESTIGE RECORDINGS (2000) box set.