Recorded between October 31, 1964 and February 23, 1965. Originally released on Columbia (9149). Includes liner notes by Martin Williams, Peter Keepnews.
From the virtuosic stride of Art Tatum to Sun Ra's brand of outer-limits logic, these sides read like a holistic jazz piano guide. Recorded during a 1964 run at California's "It Club," the performances contained herein offer an intensely personal experience of the "mad genius" alone at the keyboard. Most of the cuts clock in at less than three or four minutes.
More than half of this material is standards, the Tin Pan Alley of Monk's youth. "Dinah" is a sweet 1925'er, rendered in fairly straight fashion. Monk's percussive emphasis gives his bass notes the oom-pah of a tuba as his right-hand dances gaily through the golden melody. "Ruby My Dear" is a lovely ballad, given an almost unsettling spaciousness here. The improvisation is relatively spare, with several rounds of the melody grounded in heavily-planted voicings and occasional lead-ins. "Monk's Point" has the simple insistency of many other Monk blues tunes, his left and right hands having a grand time tossing the spotlight back and forth in the solo.