THELONIOUS MONK – Greatest Hits –
Little Rootie Tootie (8:45)
Ruby, My Dear (6:17)
Brilliant Corners (6:21)
‘Round Midnight (8:16)
Off Minor (5:04)
All compositions by THELONIOUS MONK
Just a few short years ago, THELONIOUS MONK, unquestionably a true genius of American music and one of the founding fathers of modern jazz, was to many people a comparatively little-known figure whose music was considered father frighteningly difficult. Today, however, the picture is quite different. It is not only fellow musicians and experts who recognize his vital creative contributions. Now Thelonious places in the top ranks in polls of both just-plain-listeners and critics, and there remains no doubt about the fact that this fabulous pianist-composer-bandleader is one of the very greatest, most challenging, and also most listenable and rewarding musicians of our times.
There are many reasons for this healthy change – and far from least important is that today’s jazz audience is far more alert and aware than yesterday’s, more insistent on finding out for itself instead of accepting stereotyped judgments as to what is or is not too “far out.” It is also important that this audience has had full opportunity to actually hear Monk at his best – both in person and on a long series of outstanding Riverside album that gave him full room to display his great talents, along with star-filled supporting casts worthy of him.
This album of hit recordings brings together for the first time some of the major examples of Monk’s climb to widespread acceptance and stardom – the records, the compositions, the settings that helped destroy the limited myth and bring Thelonious’ genius into the light. In a single package like this they present an overwhelmingly impressive array that may well bring him still-broader public acclaim.
One major breakthrough was a memorable Town Hall concert devoted to orchestral arrangements of several of his compositions. It was a wonderful demonstration of the depth and color of his writing; the recording made that night became a true best-seller spearheaded by a unique arrangement (by Hall Overton, with Monk) that turned a previous Monk piano solo on Little Rootie Tooie into a roaring full-band ensemble!
Before that, evidence that Monk himself was roaring on his way had been supplied when the remarkable, strangely-structured Brilliant Corners (also featuring tenor-sax giant Sonny Rollins and drummer Max Roach) broke like a bombshell on the jazz horizon.
Also of tremendous significance was a long, vastly successful engagement in the late ‘50s at New York’s Five Spot club – Monk’s first extended club appearance in many years. The great, close-knit quartet he led on that job, which boasted the brilliant tenor sax of John Coltrane, is represented here by its version of one of Thelonious’ best-known and most beautiful umbers, Ruby, My Dear.
The most famous and loveliest Monk composition – and one of the greatest tunes ever – is of course ‘Round Midnight. It has been played endlessly by innumerable performers, a Monk version of this great hit and classic that co-features the formidable Gerry Mulligan.
For pure excitement, many Monk fans single out (and Monk-aware disc jockeys play with unflagging regularity) the vibrant and driving Jackie-ing. Finally, there is one of the several notable tunes that have become standards with today’s jazz groups, Off-Minor, which also serves as a standout example of the type of top-talent record dates that have highlighted Thelonious’ recent career. Here, John Coltrane, all-time tenor great Coleman Hawkins, and star drummer Art Blakey assist on this selection from the celebrated, 5-star album “Monk’s Music.”
The personnel appearing with THELONIOUS MONK on these selections is –
On Little Rootie Tootie (Thelonious Monk Orchestra):
Donald Byrd (tp) Eddie Bert (tb) Phil Woods (as) Charlie Rouse (ts) Pepper Adams (brs) Robert Nothern (frh) Jay McAlister (tu) Sam Jones (b) Arthur Taylor (drs)
Thad Jones (cnt) Charlie Rouse (ts) Sam Jones (b) Arthur Taylor (drs)
On Ruby, My Dear
John Coltrane (ts) Wilbur Ware (b) Shadow Wilson (drs)
On Brilliant Corners
Sonny Rollins (ts) Ernie Henry (as) Oscar Pettiford (b) Shadow Wilson (drs)
On ‘Round Midnight
Gerry Mulligan (brs) Wilbur Ware (b) Shadow Wilson (drs)
On Off Minor
Ray Copeland (tp) Coleman Hawkins (ts) John Coltrane (ts) Gigi Gryce (as) Wilbur Ware (b) Art Blakey (drs)
These and other great Monkperformances can be heard on such Riverside LPs as –
Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (RLP 300; Stereo 1138)
Mulligan Meets Monk (RLP 247; Stereo 1106)
Monk’s Music (RLP 242; Stereo 1102)
5 by Monk by 5 (RLP 305; Stereo 1150)
Brilliant Corners (RLP 226; Stereo 1174)
Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk (RLP 323; Stereo 1171)
Produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photo by LAWRENCE SHUSTAK
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York City 36, New York