2 Bands. 2 sets. Pure Monk.
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 01/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tracks 1 - 9: Thelonious Monk - piano, Sahib Shihab - alto sax, Milt Jackson - vibes, Al McKibbon - bass, Art Blakey - drums. Recorded on 7/23/51.
Tracks 10 - 18: Thelonious Monk - piano, Kenny Dorham - trumpet, Lou Donaldson - alto sax, Lucky Thompson - tenor sax, Nelson Boyd - bass, Max Roach - drums. Recorded on 5/30/52.
This is one of the great documents of Thelonious Monk's unique (and totally engaging) style and vision. I almost considered giving this 4 stars for no other reason than I know that the Rouse band is probably more popular/familiar for most people, but I just couldn't. This is five stars all the way.
Actually, seeing a previous review (after writing mine) has made me slip this note in here and drop it down to 4. I don't have that '48 session! That IS a good question... if it can fit on here, why isn't it on here? Although, for what IS here, it's still a 5-star disc.
I wonder whether this review will be mainly read by longtime Monk fans, or by people who are new to him. For those of you who know his stuff... everything that is Monk... it's all here. This is a fantastic disc! For those of you who are new to him but have other jazz discs... you're in for a treat. No one elses music moves like Monk's moves. Everything about him stands alone. Once you get acquainted with his music, his rhythms, melodies (of his tunes), and piano playing will be instantly recognizable to you because, like I said... his music has its own distinct sense of movement.
That off-kilter sense of bouncy, swinging thrust that Dolphy's music has... it's due in part to his fascination with our man right here, Monk.
I love this disc, and the fact that it's by 2 different bands is really nice. You get to hear that Monk Vision as filtered through the lenses of 2 distinct bands. As for which band I prefer, it just depends on my mood. Both bands have it! As for this disc, you should have it!
Not as exciting as Volume 1, but worth digging up.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 10/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After his debut recordings as a leader in 1947, it was quite a while until Thelonious Monk returned to the studio as a leader. His next two sessions for Blue Note, in the summer of 1951 and spring of 1952 are collected as "Genius of Modern Music, Volume 2". Although LP technology was available, Blue Note chose to keep Monk in the single format.
The first session, from the summer of '51 finds Monk with perhaps the first frontline that truly "got" his music in alto saxophonist Sahib Shihab and vibist Milt Jackson, with bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Art Blakey anchoring the session. With the exception of a reading of "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (which Monk curiously recorded for Blue Note in 1947 as well), all the pieces are Monk originals, and this level of focus benefits the band, whether it's the midtempo oddball "Criss Cross" (which works nicely with the odd frontline), ecstatic "Straight No Chaser" (which curiously flounders a bit on Shihab's solo), or piano feature "Ask Me Now", where Monk really shows just what he's capable of.
The second session produces far less interesting music, with Monk accompanied by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, reedmen Lou Donaldson (on alto) and Lucky Thompson (on tenor), bassist Nelson Boyd and drummer Max Roach. By and large, it feels as though the horns don't quite get into this as much they should and they seem to get in the way of each other. "Skippy" is fantastic, full of energy and explosiveness, mid-tempo number "Let's Cool One" works reasonably well, but some of the material ("Sixteen", standards "Carolina Moon" and "I'll Follow You") receive straight and largely uninteresting reading. This is most surprising on "I'll Follow You", which sheds the horns entirely and presents Monk in a trio setting.
As part of the Rudy Van Gelder edition of remasters, this album features fantastic sound, given the age of the recording, far superior to the previous issue.
There's enough good music on here to make this one worth digging up, but for interest in early Monk, start with Volume 1."
Not to be Missed
R. J. Marsella | California | 11/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Monk on Blue Note with superb supporting musicians playing many of his best known compositions. Can't go wrong here. My favorite tracks are on the first half of the CD featuring Milt Jackson. Check out Willlow Weep For Me and you will be instantly hooked. Monk's music has a vibrancy that is really captured in these recordings and for either the uninitiated or hard core Monkophiles this is a must own CD. Of all the guys who came out of the Bebop scene Monk's music stands out as the music that remains as fresh and challenging as anything being done today. Do yourself a favor and check this out."