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Rooster_Ties

Any good starter compilations of Thelonious Monk? (on CD)

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A friend at work asked me to recommend some Thelonious Monk to him (though admittedly, or at least I'm admitting to all of you, my Monk collection is fairly thin).  And he specifically wondered if there was a good compilation I could suggest?

And thinking about it, Monk stuck me as an artist who would benefit by a really good 2CD compilation that covered *multiple labels*.  Is the 'Ken Burns Jazz' single-CD Monk comp the only multi-label Monk comp out there?  I just skimmed All Music on my phone, and I lost count at the number of Monk titles they lump in under "compilation" (a quirk of what Allmusic calls a 'compilation' - I totally realize).

Or are there any good single-disc (or 2CD?) Monk comps, each separately covering his Riverside and Columbia years?  (I'm pretty sure there's a decent single-disc Blue Note compilation, iirc.)

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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His Prestige records are arguably my favorite, and they have a 2 CD compilation of them. Great stuff.

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"The Columbia Years 1962-68" (Legacy 3Cd Set)    2001 .... great music in excellent sound hands down .... 

Edited by soulpope

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I also like his Prestiges specifically, and there is a very good boxset of them all, containig even a session with Coleman Hawkins which was his first session for the label. Plus that boxset is a K2, meaning it has a very good sound. Very natural. To be recommended.

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9 minutes ago, soulpope said:

"The Columbia Years 1962-68" (Legacy 3Cd Set)    2001 .... great music in excellent sound hands down .... 

It has absolutely lousy packaging. You have to make sure to lay it flat, as the CDs only have flimsy rubber spindles holding them in place> I've had issues with one CD falling off the spindle if I remove the package from the shelf. Obviously designed by someone who doesn't collect CDs, like the badly packaged Bill Evans Verve set or the Charlie Christian 4 CD set with the CDs sitting inside a ceramic like block's slits. Who hires such people?

 

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The Ken Burns Jazz is the best one-disc compilation of Monk's entire career.  It has tracks from all labels he recorded for, including his last session on Black Lion, and makes sure to include two tracks with Coltrane and one with Rollins.  Sound is excellent, liner notes intelligent.  You can't go wrong here.

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20 minutes ago, Ken Dryden said:

It has absolutely lousy packaging. You have to make sure to lay it flat, as the CDs only have flimsy rubber spindles holding them in place> I've had issues with one CD falling off the spindle if I remove the package from the shelf. Obviously designed by someone who doesn't collect CDs, like the badly packaged Bill Evans Verve set or the Charlie Christian 4 CD set with the CDs sitting inside a ceramic like block's slits. Who hires such people?

Wouldn't see the packaging factor overly dramatic .... 

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17 minutes ago, mjzee said:

The Ken Burns Jazz is the best one-disc compilation of Monk's entire career.  It has tracks from all labels he recorded for, including his last session on Black Lion, and makes sure to include two tracks with Coltrane and one with Rollins.  Sound is excellent, liner notes intelligent.  You can't go wrong here.

I think this is right but maybe he could also start off with the BN CDs and see if he likes those. 

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27 minutes ago, mjzee said:

The Ken Burns Jazz is the best one-disc compilation of Monk's entire career.  It has tracks from all labels he recorded for, including his last session on Black Lion, and makes sure to include two tracks with Coltrane and one with Rollins.  Sound is excellent, liner notes intelligent.  You can't go wrong here.

Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking too.  I was just hoping there was maybe an even better multi-disc Monk comp, that had multi-label representation of his material.

Really didn't expect there'd be one, but you never know - especially with someone who's had as many releases/repackaging as Monk.

ALSO, here's a bit of further discussion (similar), at Steve Hoffman...

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/best-thelonious-monk-compilation.171597/

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Hey, there's always those off-brand PD releases.

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49 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Hey, there's always those off-brand PD releases.

Yuck! :bad:

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1 hour ago, Brad said:

I think this is right but maybe he could also start off with the BN CDs and see if he likes those.

I would go with the BN CDs.

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My first Monk experiences were Monk's Music and Brilliant Corners on Riverside, and that worked out fine for me. As long as you stay away from a few questionable Monks, you should be good to go.

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I've lived with the BN material for, jeez, how long has it been now, 40 years? and although it's undeniably of huge historical significance, for "fun" listening, I've always always preferred the Prestige and Riverside dates. I don't know that 78s of not always fully comfortable executions of this material is what a (probably) recreational listener is going to glom onto right away. But then again, maybe so, people are funny! And the right selection of BN material can be pretty damn powerful. But contrary to the mythology, they're not all "of a piece".

Too bad they've not made this into a CD. It was the first Mnk reccord I got, and it did its job remarkably well.

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R-3104558-1406293950-9613.jpeg.jpg

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The Monk and Coltrane record is great.

As has already been mentioned, the Riverside/Prestige stuff is also mostly great.

The later Black Lion set that first came back on Mosaic is also great.

 

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The Riverside Monk & Coltrane compilation will get you some Hawk too, but though I know it's not a compilation I would start someone with Monk & Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. If you don't like Monk after that you're never going to like him. 

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Well, it is not a balanced introduction, but once I gave my friend (a painter, don't know so much about Jazz) "Monk Alone: The Complete Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk 1962-1968", she loved it.  Seems solo piano is the best starting point of a trail up the Monk mountain.

Edited by mhatta

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4 hours ago, mhatta said:

Seems solo piano is the best starting point of a trail up the Monk mountain.

I know the 50s solo piano really helped me get into Monk.

 

14 hours ago, JSngry said:

I don't know that 78s of not always fully comfortable executions of this material is what a (probably) recreational listener is going to glom onto right away

I have a special thing for (what I hear as) the concentrated promise (of things to come) of this material. I love the Milt Jackson BN sides - and for a perverse reason. That is the way Monk just pulls the floor from beneath his soloist so that the solo is, as it were, having to get across the gap.

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16 hours ago, soulpope said:

Wouldn't see the packaging factor overly dramatic .... 

Maybe not, but Ken’s description of that disaster is spot on. All three discs were loose in the package when I bought it, and almost never stayed in place no matter how carefully I handled it. 

The only packaging I have that is worse is the Charlie Parker Dial & Savoy box where the discs are in sleeves so damn tight they’re nearly impossible to get out. 

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I wonder how many people of our ages actually started hearing Monk with the BN sides vs how many came to them with at least a little awareness of what was to follow.

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Well, my first Monk was the Jazzland release with Coltrane, but right after that I bought the Blue Note box set. 

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Had you heard any other Monk before actually buying anything?

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No, those two were my gateway releases. 

Oddly enough, I purchased both of them through BMG. This was early on in my Jazz phase. Early 90’s. 

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Interesting...did you notice the difference between LP sound/cut lengths and those of the 78s in any way? Just wondering, because for me, I did, at first anyway, and not always positively. Also, though, the first LPs of the BN material (the old "red and green ones") were in no way chronologically programmed, and that was a distraction for me. Not until the 70s 2-fer did they get grouped by session order, and that helped me a lot.

Just asking, because so often when asked for recs for a new listener, we reflexively want to start them at the beginning, and that's an iffy proposition sometimes. But you never know!

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This ...

 

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