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Soul Stream

Monk's Columbia stuff

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I had a couple of these on the old CD versions...they never GRABBED me. I always kind of veered towards the old Blue Note stuff of Monk. But now that they've all been remastered (what SOUND!@!), I've bought them ALL over the last few days. I'm so blown away. It's like I slept on this stuff, and now I've awoken to a brand new day.

This shit swings.

...this isn't a thread about the remastering really. It's the MUSIC. The new versions brought them back to my attention really, that's all. Maybe I just wan't ready for the music before. Now, I'm just so in love with these albums.

Edited by Soul Stream

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I've ALWAYS loved this music, and cherished the lps and cds I have had. Dunlop on drums with Monk has been a favorite combination of mine (though I love Ben Riley's work as well)--Frankie just dances with the tunes and his soloing is so musical and inventive. And both the quartets were such hardworking working bands, and it shows in the music. This is amazing stuff, so clearly executed and masterfully conceived. (And the sound, the original recorded sound and the new remastering, have a clarity and solidity that add authority to the listening experience.)

"It's Monk Time" has long been a favorite for the piano playing---it starts off with essential Monk transforming a standard by himself with real verve and that a perfect beginning for an excellent album of Monk pianistics (and more of course from the other three.) The new "Underground" is so cool because of the added bits (though it is a bit unsettling to hear this album differently after so many listens to the original) and the Hendricks bit accompanying the bass solo on "In Walked Bud" stands out as a fantastic listening experience. "Criss Cross" is a very satisfying album in all ways. It just is a blockbuster compositionally and in performance. "Solo Monk" which I have not yet bought in the new version has long been a favorite, one of my first Monk lps in fact, and one that I puzzled over for a long time and then delighted over when it finally reeled me into its eccentric orbit.

Yes, I've been digging these for several decades and glad that they finally wormed their way into your listening world!

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i am glad somebody brought these up.

is there any reason to buy the new "solo monk" if i already own "the complete columbia solo studio recordings?"

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Probably no real reason. . . . The music will all be on your set as far as I can tell. Might sound a smidgeon better here, and some would like to have the old lp lineup (plus more) for sentimental reasons . . .

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"I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"

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I'm glad someone posted on these reissues. I too have always enjoyed the Columbias, dating back to picking up a vinyl copy of STRAIGHT, NO CHASER as one of my first jazz purchases, but I started to REALLY dig this era when the 3 CD retrospective was released and I found a used promo copy for under 20 bucks. Listening again to that expertly-chosen set, I was struck by how wrong I think that much of the commentary on Monk's later career has been.

So I'll say it - I think it is time for a serious re-evaluation of the relative worth of Monk's Columbia material. For years, the conventional wisdom was that it was generally solid, with some great moments, but ultimately inferior to the Riversides and Blue Notes. I think with hindsight, it seems much clearer these periods are all simply different animals. The Blue Notes were full of the freshness of discovery, and sure deserve some brownie points just for being so damned original for the time. (The transitional Prestige dates also deserve mention here - not a long period, but some truly great music, and like the Columbias, these deserve renewed attention)

The Riversides were of course majestic, but also quite frustrating and, in many cases, not fully realized. It's true they capture Monk moving to the next phase in his artistry, where he was to join the truly short list of jazz giants, but quite honestly I think some of these albums are a little overvalued in terms of what was actually achieved (versus what he was striving for). At times they sound sloppy, under-rehearsed, and full of tension in the negative sense. So no harm, no foul there, most musicians would still kill to create albums half this amazing, but still it's time to judge these based on the results, not on the conventional wisdom.

Which brings us to the Columbias. The more I listen, the more I realize that this was in many ways Monk's real glory period, particularly the first half but really throughout. While it's true that a certain sameness sets in on many of the recordings, particularly some of the less inspired live dates, as Lon points out Monk's piano playing had been whittled down to its essence. He plays less and says more, and what he says reflects his own career arc and the whole history of jazz piano playing. It's true that Monk at times sounds as though he's rounded off some of the rough edges of the Riversides, which so fascinate us, but I actually think again this relates more to his having simply reached a higher pinnacle, where he was able to play with the fluidity of his earlier Blue Notes within the heightened demands of his mature phase...so the music sounds a bit more polished, a bit less herky jerky, but you can hardly fault someone for getting their act together and getting even BETTER at what they do, can you?

The rhythm sections on the Columbias are uniformly superb, and frankly I feel even better suited to Monk's music than many of the other admittedly great ones he recorded with earlier. Lon singles our Frankie Dunlop, whose playing I love, but I'm also a huge Ben Riley fan and he shows over and over again on his dates what a giant he is. Heck, I'm not even really that big a Charlie Rouse fan, but I have to admit he fits the bill well and does some of his best playing with Monk, often sounding no less than brilliant.

So that's my longwinded way of saying to anyone coming anew to these recordings: don't believe everything you read! Listen to Monk's Columbias carefully and you'll be rewarded with amazing musical riches.

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Nicely said, Tony.

The word I would use for Monk's Columbia period is "crystallization," in that his soloing and compositional ethos have been fully refined. We're not hearing Monk compositions, we're hearing Monk. The man's likely reached the pinnacle of artistry: full self-expression. Not many can do that, and not for lack of skill, but because they don't yet possess the rigorous and lonely dedication it takes to deliver a singular creative vision. Considering that perhaps Monk's creative peak was actually when he had no work and no caberet card, the Columbia recordings are testimony and praise to his unceasing conviction of the validity of his work. It's often transcendental stuff — you hear it, and can take unsparing comfort in being part of the human world.

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It's often transcendental stuff — you hear it, and can take unsparing comfort in being part of the human world.

YES! That last sentence in particular really captures it. Listening to the outstanding solo Monk 2 CD collection from a few years back never ceases to put me in that type of transcendental state. Whether you sit and focus on the music, with no other distractions, or let it ooze into your subconscious while reading or working or whatever, it'll get you there.

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At last found the time to go out and buy the lastest Columbia reissues, find they sound very nice, this and the fact that we get the unedited versions is a great improvement on the previous US or French reissues - had them all and sold them after the new ones were out.

I wholeheartedly agree to all what has been said in the posts above - the Columbia years were a period of consolidating the Monk sound with a stable working quartet. I always loved them! :wub:

I have all these on the table before me and find Columbia and Orrin Keepnews have done an excellent job on these reissues: good sound, great photos, expanded versions with edited takes restored and added alternate takes or unissued/obscure tracks. :tup

What we have is:

Monk's Dream

Criss Cross

It's Monk Time

Monk

Straight, No Chaser

Underground

These are all the Monk quartet studio albums!

The solos, unless included in one of the beforementioned, are on:

Solo Monk

or, in one wants to have 'em all in one package including all releasable alternates:

Monk Alone (2 CDs; the only missing item is a solo 'Round Midnight from Monk's very last Columbia sessions for Monk's Blues)

Then there is the series of live recordings on double CDs:

Monk In Tokyo

Monk At Newport 1963 & 1965

Live at the It Club

Live at the Jazz Workshop

Still missing:

- a new edition of Big Band and Quartet in Concert. This was well done by Keepnews in 1994, all they have to do is a new remastering.

- a new edition of Monk's last Columbia studio album, Monk's Blues. Was on CD in 1994, new remaster is all that needs to be done, this included the solo 'Round Midnight.

- Misterioso.

Now this may be the opportunity where they ruin the good job. This album was a compilation of tracks from a number of concert recordings, most of which appeared on the live doubles listed above.

The exceptions are:

- Honeysuckle Rose, which is in fact a studio trio recorded March 2, 1965 from a session that otherwise poduced three piano solos, one of them included on the LP Solo Monk. Keepnews saved this one on the triple CD The Columbia Years, all solos are on Monk Alone.

- Well You Needn't from an otherwise still unissued Brandeis University of February 27, 1965.

Now these and the unissued concert recordings from a Mexican tour in May 1966 - including a jam on C Jam Blues with Dave Brubeck!!! - would make a glorious live double CD to complete this series of Monk's Columbia recordings!!!! :excited:

(Keepnews included the piano solo "Don't blame me" on the triple CD set, indicating the tapes are all still there!!!)

Edited by mikeweil

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I have never understood why some critics dismiss the Columbia Monk recordings. Could they have been so jaded by the steady flow of brilliant new Monk compositions in the 40s and 50s that the pace in the 60s just wasn't fast enough?

The Riversides and Columbias reflect very different philosophies. Keepnews constantly challenging Monk by putting him in unfamiliar and varied contexts, and by influencing directly the choice of material. Columbia gave Monk virtual complete freedom (at least until the later years) to document his music the way he wanted to in the best possible sound.

In many ways, the Columbia recordings were the supreme realization of Monk's musical conception. Yet the Riverside strategy helped prevent Monk from getting lazy and just "coasting," as he sometimes was inclined to do. In retrospect, we are very lucky that we have both sets of recordings.

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I'm all for a new release of live material only released in bits before. The Mysterioso release could be quite superflous if the component recordings are extant and released in entirety! I can never never never have enough Monk!

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up for no particular reason

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I'm all for a new release of live material only released in bits before.  The Mysterioso release could be quite superflous if the component recordings are extant and released in entirety!  I can never never never have enough Monk!

Well, there were Legacy CDs of previously unreleased live recordings of The Byrds and Mike Bloomfield, Miles Davis ..... so there's still some hope. I'd certainly buy them the day they're out.

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There's nothing like playing "Nice work if you can get it" ala Monk.

That'll get the drunks attention right away.

Plus I just lost that gig.

:crazy::crazy::crazy:

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The only one I don't have is TOKYO. I always figured thats where I'd draw the line.

I hope I can find it tomorrow!!!

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up for no particular reason

Then I'll note for no particular reason that I still don't have the Columbia MONK. Each time I've spotted it at a good to respectable price, I keep putting it back for some other time. There aren't a whole lotta of Monk's left to hear for the first time, and that's one I'm saving for some reason.

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Funny, that's the first one I ever bought, back in vinyl days. Nice session.

Buy it now or buy it later, I predict that you'll dig it. -_-

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What's occurred to me is that I have none of Monk's group studio Columbia albums. I have Live at the It Club and Live at the Jazz Workshop and the Complete Solo. So let's say I go to buy one tomorrow. Should I go chronologically? Or what do you all recommend first?

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Just start getting them. Any of them.

They're all good.

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Would like to say Underground ... but, of course, any choice would be the best one you'd make.

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The first Monk I ever heard was an old UK '45' with 'Hackensack' on side A and 'Bye-ya' on side B. That was an ear-opening experience, have loved these Columbia sessions ever since. Time to open up the 3CD 'Retrospective' again.

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Funny, that's the first one I ever bought, back in vinyl days. Nice session.

Buy it now or buy it later, I predict that you'll dig it.  -_-

Oh I know I will.

I've never been good at buying wine and then aging it in the cellar. For some reason I can do that with some artist's albums that for whatever reason just happen to be amongst the last titles I haven't gotten around to hearing. For Miles "Dig" is one of them. For Monk it's the self-titled Columbia. Something about the black & white cover adds a certain something to it too. I going to try to save it for when I either really need it or just want to celebrate something special.

I didn't take this delayed gratification approach with the Monk/Coltrane coming out in 9 days though. :P

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Yeah, I think that beautiful B&W cover was why I bought it at the time (circa 1978) from among several alternatives.

One day when we were goofing around in the music room in high school, a pianist friend played a tune for me that turned my head around. It was the craziest, catchiest thing I'd ever heard up to then. I asked him what it was. Thelonious Monk, "Well You Needn't."

I bought the Columbia Monk on my next trip to the record store (a weekly pilgrimage from Newton, MA to the Harvard Coop in Cambridge).

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The only one I don't have is TOKYO. I always figured thats where I'd draw the line.

I hope I can find it  tomorrow!!!

I hope you will succeed - the band was kicking that day! I find the live quartet recordings with Frankie Dunlop are slightly superior to those with Riley, who was the more conventional drummer of the two.

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I highly recommend a video of the quartet that was done in a Tokyo television studio in May '63. Best visuals of Monk I've ever seen plus the music is terrific with excellent Dunlop. The version of "Evidence" alone is worth the price of admission.

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I highly recommend a video of the quartet that was done in a Tokyo television studio in May '63.  Best visuals of Monk I've ever seen plus the music is terrific with excellent Dunlop.  The version of "Evidence" alone is worth the price of admission.

Martyjazz - What video is this ? Is it readily available. Where can I get it ?

I'm salivating.

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