THELONIUS MONK -- This is Jazz 5 (Columbia / Legacy)

Thelonius Sphere Monk was one of the most influential jazz pianists of the modern era. He arrived on the scene in the 40's, amidst the bebop movement. However, his unique style of playing set him apart from the rest. To many, his playing sounded wrong or primitive. His response to that sentiment was that an artist needed to play what he heard. The public would have to catch up to him. Judging by the tracks on this compilation, they did just that. Most are now considered standards, covered by a wide variety of artists ranging from Charlie Parker and Miles Davis to Phish and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Looking back, you can hear just how natural and unforced the music actually was.

Legacy has done an excellent job with this series (now 31 titles strong). The ten tracks on the CD showcase Monk's material for Columbia in a variety of settings (both live and in the studio)--solo, quartet, and with a full horn section. Connoisseurs of Monk's timeless music will no doubt find faults of one kind or another, but for the person just discovering his music, the disc is sublime.


'Round Midnight (solo) * Well You Needn't (live, quartet) * Bemsha Swing (live, quartet) * Ruby, My Dear (solo) * Straight, No Chaser (live, full horn section) * Blue Monk (live, full horn section) * Rhythm-A-Ning (live, quartet) * Monk's Dream (live, quartet) * Misterioso (live, quartet) * Epistrophy (live, full horn section)

© 1997 Steve Marshall