Just after John Coltrane left him and before the arrival of Charlie Rouse, Thelonious Monk formed a quartet with Johnny Griffin, which played at the Five Spot in New York in August & July, 1958. Half of this music was issued on two original Riverside albums: “In Action” and “Misterioso”. This edition contains all known music from these famous gigs plus as a bonus, a rare sextet selection by Monk including Griffin, Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams.
Remastered in 24-bit from the original master tapes. Part of our Keepnews Collection, which spotlights classic albums originally produced by the legendary Orrin Keepnews. For Monk’s debut Riverside date, Keepnews decided to ease the pianist into what turned out to be his lengthy association with the label by asking him to momentarily set aside his own compositions and instead play Duke Ellington tunes. He did so in the company of the esteemed rhythm section of bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke. With his distinctively angular style, Monk nails Ellington’s best-known tunes such as “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Mood Indigo” and “Caravan.”
Thelonious Monk, in addition to all his other notable qualities, was actually one of Riverside's most valuable talent scouts, recommending such mainstays as Johnny Griffin and Wilbur Ware, and introducing the label to Sonny Rollins and Clark Terry. The astoundingly adept trumpeter was always greatly appreciated by Thelonious, who quickly accepted the invitation to accompany Terry on this occasion. It was an album full of firsts and rarities: Monk's only Riverside appearance as a sideman; the first of Terry's many recordings on flugelhorn; the first of a great many Riverside dates for the great bassist Sam Jones; and the only occasion on which Monk and drummer Philly Joe Jones recorded together.
Orrin Keepnews' commentary (from his new liner notes): "This, you might say, is an album of undiluted Monk. Like most generalizations, that wouldbe putting things a bit too simply, but the core of truth is there. For, with the deliberate exceptionof the final selection, this is literally Thelonious Himself—Monk, alone in the recording studio, offering highly personal versions of some standards and some of his own tunes.
Monk's Music is among the most significant of Thelonious's classic Riverside albums. Here he was literally looking back and ahead at the same time, by bringing together Coleman Hawkins (the very first important voice on tenor saxophone) and John Coltrane (on the verge of becoming a major shaping force of the Sixties). Equally notable is the incredible rhythmic support provided by combining Art Blakey and Wilbur Ware; and, justifying the album title, a selection of vital Monk compositions–plus his choice of the 19th century hymn, "Abide with Me" (written by one William H. Monk).
Orrin Keepnews' commentary (from the new liner notes): “This album was actually one of the major factors in the successful battle to win new and wider acceptance for Monk. In the sequence of his Riverside discography, it followed two initial albums devoted entirely to 'standards' and offered the first occasion on this label for Thelonious to express himself basically through his own writing. Creating music for five instrumental voices in terms of his personal and unorthodox construction, approach and phrasing, he produced some startlingly brilliant examples of the great depth, wit, and strength of his style.”
In Memoriam. Orrin Keepnews, RIP. Jazz producer and record label found Orrin Keepnews died on Sunday at the age of 91. Keepnews was behind landmark recordings by jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley… Remastered in 24-bit from the original master tapes. Part of our Keepnews Collection, which spotlights classic albums originally produced by the legendary and arguably the most respected of all jazz producers, Orrin Keepnews.
Ernie Henry was one of Riverside's earliest "discoveries." He recorded for the label, as a leader and as a sideman with Thelonious Monk and Kenny Dorham, for little more than a year before his sudden death at the end of 1957. The brilliant and unrealized promise of the young alto saxophonist, which was just beginning to be recognized (he was with Dizzy Gillespie's big band when he died), was dramatically exhibited on this final collection, one side of which is from an unfinished album featuring good friends and colleagues like Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.