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Thelonious Monk: Monk's Blues

Album Notes

Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano); Oliver Nelson (arranger, conductor); Ernie Small, Thomas Scott, Gene Cipriano, Ernie Watts, Charlie Rouse (saxophone); Robert Bryant, Frederick Hill, Conte Candoli, Robert Brookmeyer (trumpet); William Byers, Mike Wimberly (trombone); Howard Roberts (guitar); Larry Gales (acoustic bass); Ben Riley (drums); John Guerin (percussion).

Producer: Teo Macero.

Reissue producer: John Snyder.

Engineers include: Bill Driml, Rafael O. Valentin, Arthur Kendy.

Recorded in Hollywood, California on November 19 & 20, 1968. Includes liner notes by Mark Humphrey and John Snyder.

Digitally remastered by Vic Anesini (1993, Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).

This is part of the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series.

Always on the outlook for ways to expand his musical palette, Monk asked arranger/conductor Oliver Nelson in 1968 to outfit some of his compositions for a big band. The results, performed here with a 16-piece ensemble, create an odd amalgam, at once feeling like a throwback to Ellingtonian big band scale and impact, and remaining wild and slippery with the avant-surprises of Monk's tunes. The success of this experiment depends on the prejudices of the listener.

Many lovers of modern jazz, and the fierce intensity of the quartet or quintet, shy from larger orchestral arrangements with a puritan revulsion, favoring Monk's traditionally smaller ensembles. Fans of the big band sound, however, may find Monk's challenging inventions more palatable in this mode, as they are at once larger and more streamlined. The constant, of course, is Monk's playing, from its assault on intervals to its loopy, impassioned execution. The CD also contains two classic tracks not included on the original release, "Blue Monk" and "Round Midnight." Whether you're for or against the big-band approach, MONK'S BLUES is an intriguing collection of powerful recordings that put a new spin on familiar songs.


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