Monk’s Dream – Thelonious Monk (1962)

“I can listen to Thelonious Monk play just about anything. His angular, percussive style has always hit me in my sweet spot. He was one of the first major jazz artists I discovered after my initial exposure to Miles and Coltrane a couple decades ago, but for years I stubbornly dismissed his Columbia output as somehow inferior to his more groundbreaking work on Blue Note, Prestige and Riverside. That all changed about fifteen years ago when I came across a copy of Solo Monk at an ARC Thrift store for $1 (I know some of you out there remember the days when you could find great jazz LPs sitting around in dollar bins). The record turned me on to the fact that Monk was still performing high quality music in the 1960s, and I quickly went on to explore his Columbia discography and a whole new world of the eccentric and visionary pianist’s music opened up to me. Monk’s Dream was Monk’s debut release on Columbia, and like the rest of his releases on the label from 1963 through 1968 the album teams him up with the underrated tenor master Charlie Rouse. The more I listen to this period of Monk, the more obvious it becomes just how vital Rouse was to the success of these records. His rapport with the pianist is obvious, and very impressive right out of the gate on their first recording together. Those of you who are familiar with Monk’s legendary albums from the previous decade know how he was able to bring out the best from some of the finest tenor players of the time, be it Sonny Rollins, Coltrane or Johnny Griffin. In contrast, I often feel that on the Columbia recordings, it is often Rouse who is pushing Monk to be at his best, keeping the music fresh and vibrant. As would be his modus operandi for most of his Columbia recordings, Monk’s Dream finds the quartet exploring a combination of material both old and new. Maybe this was one reason that I initially had little interest in these records: why bother listening to simple rehashes of already great tunes? That’s the thing, though, these are not mere retreads of Monk compositions, made for a quick cash grab. This quartet brings something new to the songs at each turn, with a connection between the musicians that other groups must have viewed with some degree of envy. …”
The Jazz Record (Audio)
W – Monk’s Dream
YouTube: Monk’s Dream (Full Album)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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