Admittedly, I'm not sure why this was the record I chose. When making the list, I was thinking "everyone's heard Brilliant Corners and Straight No Chaser, better pick a lesser known Monk record so it can be something new." But then I remembered that most of you guys don't even listen to jazz in the first place. This one isn't as easily available as some of his other releases, so I apologize if you had trouble or are currently having trouble getting a hold of it. I'll make sure to do my research and see if it's easy to get a hold of next time I choose an album.
So, Thelonious Monk - Monk. It may not be considered a masterpiece of a 'true example of Monk's genius', but I really do enjoy this record and I feel that it's a really good showcase of the unique way that Thelonious played piano. His voicings, rhythms, and runs were like no one else had ever played, and still no one has gotten anywhere close to his style today. Even against the very 'run of the mill' sound of the bands he's playing with here, his unusual style of playing meshes very well and serves as a very good contrast to the group and creates a sound that isn't too out there, but is still enough to keep things interesting at all times. Things that would sound like a mistake or wrong note if anyone else were playing it work so well and really spice up the songs with the way that Thelonious uses them.
The first four tracks were recorded in '54 with Curly Russel, Art Blakey, Frank Foster, and Ray Copeland. One of the standout tracks on this half of the album is definitely Hackensack. The jumpy, but still very groove oriented rhythm of this track really catches your attention. Art Blakey's drumming on this track is fantastic. In the beginning, his grooves are very simple with small rolls to link bits together and allow for the soloists to keep the main attention, but he does an incredible job of livening things up as Monk's solo is coming to a close around the 1:40 mark. The change serves as a turning point for the song and after that, the track keeps building as he does a role to allow Frank Foster to take the stage. The song once again bumps it up as Copeland comes in, and then everyone but Blakey himself drops out and he has a drum solo which creates a very interesting break from the rest of the track which I just love. Then everyone comes back in, more energetic than they were before, run through the hook a few more times, and close on that delicious F7.
Tracks 5, 6, and 7 were recorded 5 months earlier in '53 with Percy Heath, Willie Jones, Julius Watkins, and Sonny Rollins acting as the big name in this session. With only three tracks, one of them being just a second take, this side of the record really takes a backseat to the first four tracks. They're a lot more laid back and 'forgettable' in comparison, but Sonny Rollins throws together some very nice melodies that give the tracks a very pleasant feeling, and Watkins' french horn creates an interesting dynamic as he plays along with the rest of the band. Monk's distinct playing is nice as always and spices things up, but I can't help but feel that this side really pales in comparison to the other quintet's more lively performance.
Now, I'll throw the names of anyone who participates this week into a randomizer and post who chooses next week's album on Sunday night/Monday morning. If you haven't given the album a listen yet, you can listen to most of the tracks on Youtube and it's available on pretty much any public torrent tracker WHICH I DO NOT CONDONE AT ALL OF COURSE.
Here are some quick Youtube links of most of the songs, I'm sure the others are on there too but you'll probably have to do some digging.
1. We See
2. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
5. Let's Call This