Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thelonious Monk - Riverside Classics 1956 - 1961 (Riverside - 0902098)

I have bought 2 huge box sets around 2 months ago. One of them is this one from Thelonious Monk. It includes the legendary albums he released between 1956 and 1961 from the reknown Jazz label Riverside which helped to take him through the fame doors. The second box set is from Miles Davis with the name The Chronicle. As it is not easy to grasp all of them together, I preferred to start with my favorite Jazz player.

This box set has nothing new. Absolutely non. But it provides a general view of the most important era in Monk's history. His long delayed steps to move from being the weird guy in Jazz and becoming a legend. He was a man who set a task to change the understanding of classic Jazz. This was not easy since his psychological issues and his missing technique in piano was generally mocked. He was noted as an outsider in the Jazz world. Just 10 years later, all these mockers were to stand in total silence and respect when he would play. Therefore his road to glory was not like what we face in the modern times like Justin Bieber or Kaiser Chiefs who wrote up one dumb song and that was it.

This box set is only released in Germany by Metronome Musik under the license of Riverside Records. The albums in the box set are; "The Unique", "Brilliant Corners", "Thelonious Himself", "Thelonious In Action", "Misterioso", "Thelonious Monk Quintet - Five By Monk By Five", "Thelonious Monk Quartet + Two At The Blackhawk", "Thelonious Monk In Paris Vol 1", "Thelonious Monk In Paris Vol 2", and "Monk In Italy". I already had all the records apart from 2 of them while owning all and listening each respectively has gained some other perspective for me. It is totally refreshing to see how the "Thelonious Himself" album came to be and how it was followed which led to another legendary album "Thelonious Action".

There is also a chance to view the change in line up of Monk's band during the years as well. This also gives a chance to view why some artists like John Coltrane became a legend in his own right as well. Other artists who later earned massive fame who accompanied Monk's talents were Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Charlie Rouse, and Frank Dunlop. All of them except Frank Dunlop became a band leader themselves with extensive careers. Dunlop stayed with Monk for 4 years, then worked with Sonny Rollins and Lionel Hampton, but always stayed in the background.

Saying that the box set is enlightening is not enough. I've spent 2 days listening the records one after the other almost full time and cannot explain my joy. It is like a marathon of orgasms. Can't say that anything will beat it for some time. Of course I have three more marathons to run with them being the Miles Davis's Chronicle, The Rolling Stones's radio show (12 hours) and Queen's complete works. These are all exceptional within themselves so I don't want to say that this is the best, but it will certainly be hard to take this box set off the spot.


  1. Hi,

    Can you tell me if each albums comes with their originals sleeves inside the box ?

    Thancks !!

  2. Hello,

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Each album comes with a standard sleeve.