Search - Thelonious Monk :: London Collection

London Collection
Thelonious Monk
London Collection
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

In the excellent liner notes to this collection (previously available on the Black Lion label), Alun Morgan quotes Monk authority Max Harrison, who wrote, "Thelonious Monk works so exclusively with the basic materials of j...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Thelonious Monk
Title: London Collection
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: 1201 Music
Release Date: 6/1/1999
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 660652900525, 4002587763510, 4002587763527, 031397010129, 766486878921

In the excellent liner notes to this collection (previously available on the Black Lion label), Alun Morgan quotes Monk authority Max Harrison, who wrote, "Thelonious Monk works so exclusively with the basic materials of jazz that, in the best moments, his playing almost becomes a working definition of that music." After a few spins of this gorgeous recording, culled from Monk's last studio session in 1971, one must wonder why Harrison's statement equivocates by using the word almost. This solo outing (given an impeccable, 24-bit remastering job, by the way) presents some of Monk's best-known tunes--"Trinkle, Trinkle," Crepuscule with Nellie," "Blue Sphere"--which are given a reworking that's both sentimental and very stirring. Also included are tracks that Monk rarely recorded, such as wistful reading of "My Melancholy Baby" and an introspective "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland." Aside from the magnificent performance and the sterling recording quality, the most powerful element of this recording is Monk's shiver-inducing ability to reinvent, recompose, and innovate--which is front and center here. Highly recommended. --S. Duda

CD Reviews

Monk's last solo piano record.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 11/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In the fall of 1971, three years after his last studio effort, Thelonious Monk joined a tour of Europe with a band billed as the Giants of Jazz. While in Europe, he entered a studio in London for a recording session featuring Monk as both a solo pianist and leading a trio. These would ultimately prove to be the last recordings that Monk would make.

"The London Collection Volume 1" represents the solo piano material-- Mon seems particularly inspired, as though he almost knew this was his last chance. An even split of originals and standards, primarily ballads, the composer is in a wistful mood. The pieces betray a stride and early jazz influence-- the spirits of Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson are stamped all over the readings of "Trinkle Tinkle", "My Melancholy Baby" and particularly, new original "Blue Sphere". The other aspect of this music is an overt lyricism in the playing-- Monk eats the ballads alive, sticking to a more conventional sound for several of them-- this is the great solo piano reading of "Crepuscule with Nellie"-- delicate and fractured, yet beautiful and flawless, and "Darn that Dream" gets a sensitive reading that finds Monk operating in a space quite unique for him-- that of the conventional ballad pianist (although it IS unmistakably Monk). And pieces about his son ("Little Rootie Tootie") and niece ("Jackie-ing") get lovely and powerful readings that are so firmly lodged in the Monk school that they'll catch you off guard if you're not ready for them.

This reissue contains flawless sound-- it's definitely worth the upgrade from the old (black covered) issue. For those curious, Volume 2 (the trio session with Al McKibbon and Art Blakey) and Volume 3 (outtakes from both) are available overseas, but it'll require a bit of digging. I managed all three here on Amazon's zShops.

This is one of the great releases by Thelonious Monk. He's in brilliant form, and the music is fantastic. Highly recommended."
Top Quality Solo Monk
B. D. Tutt | London, UK. | 04/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I agree with the comments of the Amazon reviewer, but would add just a couple of comments.These 1971 recordings are from the last studio session that Monk ever made. As well as a series of sensational trios with Art Blakey, he recorded a series of solos, both of his own compositions and of some of his favorite standards. Recorded exceptionally well, these tracks capture Monk's unique piano touch, and find him in a relaxed, swinging mood. "Little Rootie Tootie" is given a delightfully relaxed performance, and "Trinkle Tinkle" & "Blue Sphere" reveals his stride roots. "Loverman" and "Darn That Dream" are given characteristically hesitant and exploratory readings. However, for me the standout tracks is "Nice Work". Monk always had a strong sense of humour, and this quirky performance, a mixture of stride and Shostakovich, is enough to make you laugh out loud. Perhaps not on a par with his Blue Note or Riverside band recordings, this CD is a must for those who admire Monk's solo piano style."