Thelonius Monk Quartet ‘Monk’s Dream’ (Poll Winners) 4/5

The major innovations that took place during the be-bop revolution could not have been achieved without the unique contribution of one Thelonius Monk and from the mid-1940s through the 1950s Monk cut music that was truly on the cutting edge of the music scene. By the early 1960s Monk was then entering into middle age and thus the music was a confirmation of that which preceded and a revisiting of his highly original compositions. The album contained within form 1962 actually went on to become his best ever seller and was the pianist and leader’s debut for the mighty Coumbia label. His quartet featured tenorist Charlie Rouse, with whom Monk would enjoy a long-term musical collaboration, bassist John Ore and drummer Frankie Dunlop (shortly to be replaced by Ben Riley). Where this re-issue scores highly over previous ones is that it pitches the new versions of Monk’s classic material side by side with earlier versions of the same numbers that were recorded at least a decade earlier and in some case dating back to 1947. This represents some thirty minutes of additional music and it is fascinating to compare and contrast the versions which vary sometimes in format as well as in interpretation. However, one brand new composition was included and has become a firm favourite in the cannon of Monk disciples and that is ‘Bright Mississippi’. Key numbers include the contrasting versions of the title track, the quartet versus trio version of ‘Bye-Ya’ and the quartet as opposed to the original 1956 quintet interpretation of ‘Blue Bolivar Blues’. Producer Teo Macero is on hand to oversee matters and does an excellent job just as he did with Miles Davis for the same label. A nice addition is an alternative album front cover photo featuring Monk. Tim Stenhouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.