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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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THELONIOUS MONK

With John Coltrane

Jazzland OJC Remasters 0888072319899

 

 


1. Ruby, My Dear
2. Trinkle, Tinkle
3. Off Minor
4. Nutty
5. Epistrophy
6. Functional
7. Monk's Mood

Thelonious Monk - Piano
John Coltrane - Tenor sax (tracks 1-5, 7)
Wilbur Ware - Bass (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7)
Shadow Wilson - Drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7)
Coleman Hawkins - Tenor sax (tracks 3, 5)
Gigi Gryce - Alto sax (tracks 3, 5)
Ray Copeland - Trumpet (tracks 3, 5)
Art Blakey - Drums (tracks 3, 5)

 

Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane are two of the most controversial figures in the major-league jazzers. I have always admired and enjoyed Monk's compositions, but I have not always enjoyed his piano playing; on this album however his piano playing is fine.

John Coltrane managed during his lifetime to produce work I have hated and work I have thoroughly enjoyed. His performances here are a long way toward the "like" end, but already they are showing signs of the "must play a million notes in every chorus", which for me spoiled his latter-day playing. I much prefer the subtle phrases of Stan Getz and the out-and-out swing of Zoot Sims, although for me the greatest of them all was Ben Webster.

The Thelonious with Trane tracks are in fact only part of the album, but by any standards they are amazing tracks and worthy of anyone's collection. The whole quartet is excellent: Monk is his usual quirky self, Trane was in fine form and the support they receive from Wilbur Ware and Shadow Wilson is first-class.

The other tracks are enjoyable, but not what the album purports to be about. On Monk's solo track Functional we hear several outbreaks of his hitting two adjacent notes. I have never worked out if this was intentional, but to me it sounds accidental!

The bonus track, Monk's Mood, is a strange affair; only Monk and Trane play till the track is 75% complete. I can understand why it was not on the 1957 record release.

The remastering by Joe Tarantino is excellent as is the informative sleeve-note from Orrin Keepnews.

Don Mather



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