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Guy Berger

Monk leftovers

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Over the past few years I've engaged in a semi-demented quest to acquire all officially-released Monk recordings. That said, as far as live recordings I have the 1957 Carnegie Hall, the 1958 Five Spots, the It Club, the Jazz Workshop, the two big band releases, and the Tokyo. Basically there are a few I haven't picked up yet. Are these worth getting, or are they "more of the same"?

Monk at the Blackhawk

Monk in Italy

Monk in France

Newport 1958/1963

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Well, some of the Newport 1958 includes Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, which makes that unique.

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I love the Blackhawk album. Monk with more horns that just Charlie Rouse is always interesting to me, and Harold Land give Rouse a run for his money at times. And it's the album I learned "Four in One" from. I like this one a lot.

The Italian and French concerts do have a bit of a "same old thing" feel, although the quartet does play some tunes ("Jackie-ing" and "San Francisco Holiday") that Monk neglected later. Monk is almost always good, but I'd say that these aren't essential.

And I like the addition of Pee Wee to the quartet at Newport, even though opinions are mixed as to whether it really worked. This is the most complete issue, and I like the 1965 set; even though it's "just" the quartet again, they're in good form.

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Well, some of the Newport 1958 includes Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, which makes that unique.

Right, Charles Ellsworth Russell appeared with Monk in '63, the earlier date is a Miles Davis Sextet appearance.

I'm very fond of this official release.

thelonius_monk_cd.jpg

It came out at one of the lowest points of my life and still cut through my haze and dazzled me.

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Over the past few years I've engaged in a semi-demented quest to acquire all officially-released Monk recordings. That said, as far as live recordings I have the 1957 Carnegie Hall, the 1958 Five Spots, the It Club, the Jazz Workshop, the two big band releases, and the Tokyo. Basically there are a few I haven't picked up yet. Are these worth getting, or are they "more of the same"?

Monk at the Blackhawk

Monk in Italy

Monk in France

Newport 1958/1963

In the days when the available Monk catalogue was a much more limited affair, the Blackhawk album was one of the basic must-have Riversides.

51hETTT5ebL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Edited by BillF

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I wouldn't be without the Italy and France discs, myself. I love the Europe '61 tour. Monk was in great form and spirit on that tour. Stockholm may have been the pinnacle, but Italy and France are not too far behind.

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I love Monk at the Blackhawk and I think it is a must have. If your this deep into Monk you should get the France and Italy ones also.

Edited by WorldB3

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Lucky you're focusing on official releases. The number of radio broadcasts and soundboards of Monk concerts that show up in the trading community and on sites like Dime is astounding.

And some are probably even better than some of the best released concerts.

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At the Blackhawk is a great one--probably my favourite Monk record. Harold Land and Joe Gordon keep things unpredictable and nice to hear Billy Higgins on drums.

The Newport 63 disc with Pee Wee Russell on two tracks is a keeper too. I love the version of "Criss Cross" that opens the concert (sans Russell).

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At The Blackhawk was the 30th Monk title I picked up, yet it defied the law of diminishing marginal utility. Defied it! It also had a 2 for 1 bonus as I'm a bit of a Harold Land whore. ;)

I have yet to pick up France or Italy mostly because I want to save the experience for later on as there aren't many official titles left to hear, and partly because I figure I really should try other things. But it is Thelonious Monk, so I favor going overboard to missing out on a performance.

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Over the past few years I've engaged in a semi-demented quest to acquire all officially-released Monk recordings. That said, as far as live recordings I have the 1957 Carnegie Hall, the 1958 Five Spots, the It Club, the Jazz Workshop, the two big band releases, and the Tokyo. Basically there are a few I haven't picked up yet. Are these worth getting, or are they "more of the same"?

Monk at the Blackhawk

Monk in Italy

Monk in France

Newport 1958/1963

In the days when the available Monk catalogue was a much more limited affair, the Blackhawk album was one of the basic must-have Riversides.

51hETTT5ebL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Further thoughts on the Blackhawk disc. I originally had the LP, but now have the CD with extra tracks. It's obvious that a factor in the original exclusion of those tracks was the extent to which audience conversation is audible. :(

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... the 1958 Five Spots ...

I hope that doesn't just include "Thelonious in Action" and "Misterioso" but also the great tape with Coltrane (which can be found running at correct speed in the Complete Monk on Blue Note 4CD set).

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I vote against Italy and France, which I rate as my worst Monk albums.

If someone would like to suggest a Monk album he thinks is worse, I would be curious.

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I like all the ones named just fine. The Blackhawk of course would edge to the front of the bunch.... you will note that Monk's solo on "Four in One" was lifted for the Hall Overton chart on the Columbia Big Band/Quartet album.

Surely the Oliver Nelson album would rank as Monk's worst. I also find the first two Riversides (the trios playing Ellington & standards) kind of middling.

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Surely the Oliver Nelson album would rank as Monk's worst.

Nate, that doesn't ring a bell. What's its name?

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1237500768_51hvc5gbchl.jpg

Last time I badmouthed this record, an Oliver Nelson fan came forward and declared that this album has been "unfairly marginalized". I guess if you search hard enough, you can find at least one person who likes anything you care to name!

For the record, I like the France and Italy albums a lot - I think they are better that the Jazz Workshop and It Club recordings, mainly due to the presence of Frankie Dunlop on drums.

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1237500768_51hvc5gbchl.jpg

Yes, I was thinking of that one. I guess that is universally considered his least popular album. It's funny, I've always remembered that one because his middle name is on the cover, but the title has never sunk in.

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Agreed. I had to Google it to make sure it wasn't called Sphere.

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1237500768_51hvc5gbchl.jpg

Yes, I was thinking of that one. I guess that is universally considered his least popular album. It's funny, I've always remembered that one because his middle name is on the cover, but the title has never sunk in.

I know someone whose music collection is probably 95% indie pop. One of the 3 jazz CDs in his collections is this one. Another friend from the same clique who also mostly listens to indie owns a T.S. Monk instead of a Thelonious. For all the scorn we toss at "Best Jazz Albums Ever" lists, maybe they aren't such bad ideas after all (unless they're recommending the above.)

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I vote against Italy and France, which I rate as my worst Monk albums.

If someone would like to suggest a Monk album he thinks is worse, I would be curious.

Here's my vote:

51zCZUa0daL._SS500_.jpg

Every tune at that same lethargic tempo...and then all those alternate takes...AAAARRRGHHH!

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For all the scorn we toss at "Best Jazz Albums Ever" lists, maybe they aren't such bad ideas after all (unless they're recommending the above.)

I imagine that relatively few folks will give jazz much of a chance if they don't like the first album they buy, so those lists are of some value. My objection to them is that pretty much all of them are made up of the usual suspects, and the usual suspects aren't among my favorites.

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I have Milan & Paris as this 2-LP ABC-Riverside

2hours.jpg

I like it becuase you can play one side and then walk away for a while. That's just about right for these sets. Good, solid, occasionally delightful, but...one side at a time is just about right.

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1237500768_51hvc5gbchl.jpg

Last time I badmouthed this record, an Oliver Nelson fan came forward and declared that this album has been "unfairly marginalized".

I can only pray that that Oliver Nelson fan was not me Ambien tripping or something. God knows I love Oliver Nelson, and his very best work is indeed exquisite, but this album is as close to a "hack job" as somebody of his skills could muster. It reeks of rushed deadlines, overcrowded schedules, anything and everything except somebody dedicating themselves to the real task at hand.

But as unfavored as this one, perhaps even a tad more so is:

33vf5hf.jpg

I mean, the Nelson album just bugs me. this one makes me mad & then puts me to sleep.

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