Thelonious Monk, in full Thelonious Sphere Monk (born Oct. 10, 1917, Rocky Mount, N.C., U.S. - died Feb. 17, 1982, Englewood, N.J.) American pianist and composer who was among the first creators of modern jazz. As the pianist in the band at Minton’s Playhouse, a nightclub in New York City, in the early 1940s, Monk had great influence on the other musicians who later developed the bebop movement. For much of his career, Monk performed and recorded with small groups. His playing was percussive and sparse, often being described as “angular,” and he used complex and dissonant harmonies and unusual intervals. A collection of some of the most remarkable recordings which laid the foundation of modern jazz and unfluenced generations of other musicians. The vast majority of these recordings became popular standards.
For Monk fans, these Mo-Fis are must-haves. Wow! After releasing so many mediocre rock albums, Mobile Fidelity came through with not one but TWO shiny gold CDs by the enigmatic, lovable Thelonious Monk (accompanied in these live recordings by Charlie Rouse on sax, John Ore on bass, and Frank Dunlop on drums)….
Two years after the death of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, this very unusual and quite memorable double-LP tribute was put together. Producer Hal Willner's most successful project, the 23 interpretations of Monk originals all feature a different group of all-star players and stretch beyond jazz. Some of the performances are fairly straightforward while others are quite eccentric; certainly the crazy duet on "Four in One" by altoist Gary Windo and Todd Rundgren (on synthesizers and drum machines) and the version of "Shuffle Boil" featuring John Zorn on game calls (imitating the sound of ducks) are quite unique. There are many colorful moments throughout the project and the roster of musicians is remarkable: Bobby McFerrin with Bob Dorough, Peter Frampton, Joe Jackson, Steve Lacy, Dr. John, Gil Evans, Randy Weston, Roswell Rudd, Eugene Chadbourne and Shockabilly, the Fowler Brothers, NRBQ, Steve Khan, Carla Bley, Barry Harris, Was (Not Was) and many others. There is not a slow moment or uninteresting selection on this highly recommended set.