Before I get into the album there are no sound samples on this page at the time of this review. You can listen to them on the MP3 version of the album here: Misterioso. While that one is much less expensive the sound quality on this CD is far superior in my opinion. You will have to decide for yourself if near-audiophile sound is worth the premium.
This album was recorded live for Riverside Records at the Five Spot Cafe in NYC on August 7, 1958 and released in 1959. It is one of the seminal albums in Monk's body of work and belongs in every serious fan's collection. It truly is a masterpiece and is Monk at his best. In addition to Monk's mojo this album also captures the magic of a venue with its own personality.
Although the spotlight is on Monk and Griffin. Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass and Roy Haynes on drums deserve a lot of credit as well. True, the critics were not enamored of their performance when this album was first reviewed in 1959, but I think their contributions have stood the test of time. Both - to my ears - are the perfect rhythm section for this gig.
The bottom line, though, is this is a seminal album from what I consider to be the golden era of jazz and a time when Monk was finally getting the recognition that he richly deserved.