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An essential live performance

  • Aug 19, 2013
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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. A companion album from the same night with the same quartet is Thelonious Monk in Action. Both albums share tracks, but each has some tracks that the other does not.

The best way to get a feel for this album and that magic performance is to listen to the sound samples. If you are viewing the CD version's product page there are no samples at the time of this review, but they can be heard on the MP3 version of the album's product page at Misterioso [Original Jazz Classics Remasters]

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. This album captures the magic of a venue with its own personality, a synergistic ensemble and excellent recording. If you are a Monk fan this (and the companion album I mentioned above) are essential.

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About the reviewer
Mike Tarrani ()
Ranked #287
My day job is in the technology sector as an IT consultant specializing in ITIL, and specifically, configuration, change and release management. I've traveled the world as a consultant before moving … more
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CD Original Jazz Classics
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