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The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings by Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane

Classic best describes this 2-disk compilation, The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. The term "complete" is no understatement; from false starts to engineers' lead-ins, to multiple takes (some with the leader, Monk, shouting out cues to his soloists), this recording has it all, including great liner notes by the producer, Orrin Keepnews. The listener is transported back in time, 50 years into the past, to view firsthand the recording process of legends in their prime. The sound quality is very good and the playing by all members of the band is, simply incredible.

You can listen to Monk solo and comp many different ways within the melody of the same song. There are five takes of "Crepuscule with Nellie," one of which is previously un-issued, featuring some free-spirited drumming by Art Blakey. You can listen to John Coltrane solo, a different approach on every take, and almost hear him evolving into the masterful player of A Love Supreme, released in 1965.

The cynic in me asks the question: Would the artists have wanted the release of this material? I think not. Professional musicians, high standards and striving for perfection, they must have put some faith in the producers, hoping that only quality material would be released. As only two tracks have never before been re-issued, other takes of these songs were issued. The aforementioned tune, "Crepuscule with Nellie," as well as "Abide With Me," are presentable and interesting for comparison purposes. I think it really doesn’t matter what the artist wants; the record companies had and continue to have control, and release what they had, to a public that seems to want everything.

Most of the session was released in 1957 by Riverside as EPs, seven-inch extended play vinyl, containing two or three tracks. The Riverside label was acquired by Fantasy Records in 1972 and saw some more re-issues. Concord and Fantasy merged in 2004 to form the Concord Music Group. A Jazzland release from 2003 entitled Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane has most of the tracks presented without edits or re-takes.

If you are a jazz fan, a Monk fan, or a Coltrane fan and you don’t have these masters playing together on any other previous releases than you should have this 2-CD set, The Complete Riverside Recordings, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
  • CD Title: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Reissue Original Release: 1957
  • Record Label: Riverside
  • Tracks: Disc 1, Monks Mood, Monks Mood, Crepuscule with Nellie, Crepuscule with Nellie, Crepuscule with Nellie, Blues For Tomorrow, Crepuscule with Nellie, Crepuscule with Nellie, Off Minor, Off Minor Disc 2, Abide With Me, Abide With Me, Epistrophy, Epistrophy, Well You Needn,t, Well You Needn,t, Ruby My Dear, Ruby My Dear, Nutty, Trinkle Tinkle
  • Musicians: Thelonious Monk (piano), John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone), Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone), Ray Copeland (trumpet), Wilbur Ware (bass), Art Blakey, Shadow Wilson (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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