Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane are universally recognized as musical demigods. The idea of Monk and Coltrane--the genius mentor and the budding genius--on the same bandstand or in the same recording studio is like Julius Erving and Michael Jordan soaring as teammates, or Jean Renoir and Francois Truffaut collaborating on a film. For an all-too-brief, magical time in 1957, Monk and Coltrane actually did work together every night as part of a quartet led by the uniquely brilliant pianist-composer Monk at New York's now-fabled Five Spot Cafe. And between April and July of that year they made the stunning music contained herein, their complete output in the recording studio.
The planets seemed to align for Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982) and John William Coltrane (1926-1967) when they joined forces in '57. Coltrane was poised to make a giant leap forward--and ready to learn from one of the masters, Monk. In a Down Beat interview Coltrane said: "Working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I learned from him in every way." Some of those answers involved the way in which Coltrane's harmonic acuity developed, expressed via early intimations of his torrential "sheets of sound." With Monk's chords guiding him to places he'd never before visited, Coltrane was now on the path to transcendence. When he is joined by Coleman Hawkins, jazz's father of the tenor saxophone, on a couple of numbers from the epochal septet album Monk's Music, one hears the tenor's past, present, and future (e.g., the master take of "Epistrophy"). And listen raptly to the respective approaches of Hawkins and Coltrane on the two versions of "Ruby, My Dear," one of three signature Monk ballads in this set (the others are "Monk's Mood" and the ever-evolving "Crepuscule with Nellie").
There is such greatness on these two discs, so many wondrous performances (the rhythm team of bassist Wilbur Ware and drummers Art Blakey or Shadow Wilson is especially inspired), and so many fascinating stories about how these masterpieces came into being. Orrin Keepnews, who as producer of the original sessions was present at the creation of every note, has written a superb essay that sets the record straight, clears up long-standing rumors about what did (and did not) go down in the studio, and, above all, lets the listener in on how a genius mentor, a budding genius, and their gifted colleagues went about the business of conceiving a work of art.
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano); Thelonious Monk; Ray Copeland (trumpet); Wilbur Ware (upright bass); Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone); Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Art Blakey, Shadow Wilson (drums).|
|Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.|
|Liner Note Author: Orrin Keepnews.|
|Recording information: Reeves, Sound Studios, New York, NY.|
|Photographers: Esmond Edwards; Bob Parent.|
|Arranger: Thelonious Monk.|
|This fine two-disc set brings together all the recordings Thelonious Monk made for the small, influential Riverside label in 1957. The piano eccentric cut excellent versions of some of his best compositions during that year, including "Off Minor," "Epistrophy," "Well, You Needn't," and the lovely "Ruby My Dear." The exhilarating saxophone work of John Coltrane makes these dates instant classics. Like most "complete sessions," the set features plenty of false starts and alternate takes that might seem extraneous to the casual fan, but Monk fanatics will be overjoyed at being provided with a glimpse into the brilliant artist's studio process.|
Producer: Orrin Keepnews; Orrin Keepnews; Orrin Keepnews (Reissue)
Engineer: Jack Higgins; Ray Fowler
Associated Artists and Works
|Release Date : 06/27/2006|
|Original Release Date : 2006|
|Catalog ID : 7230027|
|Label : Riverside Records (Jazz)|
|Number of Discs : 2|
|Mono/Stereo : Mixed|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00888072300279|
- "[Coltrane's] style is a perfect complement to the jagged beauty of Monk's music." -- Grade: A
- "The 1957 meetings of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane produced some of bop's most thrilling music."