"Thelonious Monk has a unique and commanding position among jazz pianists because of the total originality of his musical vision and his ability to express it fully, however unorthodox his music is. Indeed, his individulality is one of his chief assets. But what he did was not just 'novel': it was searching, profound, and articulated deep emotion. His music is the opposite of superficiality, yet never depressing, however strongly his thinking and feeling are rooted in the blues. This recording to my mind shows him to greater advantage than any other in that it is not 'solo', when I feel he should be accompanied by a drummer and bassist (as he is here), nor with one or more horns, where all too readily what Monk does is not really compatible with the music of the other prominent musicians, however good they are. As well, the tunes played for this recording are either important Monk originals or others that he used to great advantage, and although the tracks are short his creativity is in full flight all the time. Unhesitatingly recommended as containing some of the greatest post-war jazz. This should be in every collection, and is ALWAYS great to listen to. - Joost Daalder"
THE BEST PURE MONK...
Sébastien Melmoth | Hôtel d'Alsace, PARIS | 09/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The recordings on this disc represent probably the best pure Monk around: they present the original, quintessential "Monk sound."
Monk's solo recordings on Columbia are great, but they are a little different. How so? Well, without a timing duo of drums & bass, Monk was prone towards a slow tempo--which is great: some of his solo tracks are almost hypnotic.
Yet, with the greatest jazz drummer of all time--Art Blakey--giving Monk a steady beat--whether fast or slow--Monk is able to achieve even better boppin' jazz.
On some of the tracks Monk is acconpanied by one of the second best drummers in jazz--Max Roach (tied with the original Jo Jones!).
So, overall, these tracks show Monk at his best: virtually solo piano, except with a driving timing section which helps the soloist.
The remastered sound is insanely crisp and clear! Only complaint is that the playing time is short: not more than :40mins. But it's worth the price when an aficianado absolutely has to have the best!"
Great Trio Work!!!
Gregory Monk | Brookhaven, MS | 05/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fact no one has reviewed this title before now kind of surprises me. This records highlight some great work by Monk, Max Roach, and Art Blakey; in addition, this record marks the first time most of these tunes were ever recorded, and there are some classics on here. "Trinkle, Tinkle", "Blue Monk", "Bemsha Swing", and "Little Rootie Tootie"(a lesser known but incredible tune) are all featured on this disc along with many other wonderful songs. The particular version of "Blue Monk" that appears on this record represents a very memorable highmark. It clocks in at 7:36 (the longest track on the record, most tunes are relatively short, preety much like the Blue Note period length wise) and features some awesome drum work by Blakey. It is really great to hear Monk in a trio format, he really shines in this scenario. I would definitely recommend this title to any Monk fan, or anyone wanting to start their Thelonious collection. It really sets you up for Monk's "original" piano style."
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 01/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A collection of three early sessions by Thelonious Monk for Prestige, "Thelonious Monk Trio" are the first recordings Monk made after leaving the Blue Note label, and the three sessions find him engaged with three trios.
The first session, from October of 1952, puts Monk in the company of bassist Gary Mapp and drummer Art Blakey. In many ways, this was the ideal rhythm section for Monk-- agile enough to follow him all over the place, talented enough to be as intriguing as the leader, and smart enough to let the pianist shine, they provide ample support through three originals and one standard. Opener "Little Rootie Tootie" cathces your attention immediately with its train call opening, deft presentation, and downrigh astonishing soloing from Monk, who seems to encapsulate the entire history of the jazz tradition to 1952 in about 90 seconds, from stride to bop. The remaining three cuts all receive fine performances noteworthy for superb support from Mapp (in particular on "Monk's Dream") and Blakey ("Bye-Ya").
The second session, recorded in December of that same year, finds Monk again with Mapp but this time with Max Roach at the drum chair. Roach's presence is always felt-- Monk clearly recognized the enormous talent the drummer brought and gave him significantly more space then Blakey. The net result, however, is that the session features somewhat less detailed and stellar performances by Monk, particularly on standard "These Foolish Things", where he seems less than interested. Nonetheless, fantastic readings of "Trinkle, Tinkle" and "Bemsha Swing" are both punctuated by unnervingly superb drumming by Roach.
The final session, recorded nearly two years later in September of 1954 places Monk in the company of bassist Percy Heath and drummer Art Blakey. As a trio, they perform a stellar take of "Blue Monk", where Heath and Blakey seem to really hang back and let the leader shine. But the other song from this session-- a solo piano recording of "Just a Gigolo" presents that in much better fashion. One of the best of the many readings of the piece Monk did during his career, his performance is astonishing-- full of patience and inventiveness.
This reissue (the one in the slipcase) features far improved sound over the previous (OJC) reissue and reprints the original liner notes. Monk would go on to better albums, but quite frankly, I'm hard pressed to give this one less than five stars. Highly recommended."