When the word genius gets tossed around in jazz circles a name that will arguably be included on everyone's list is Thelonious Monk. A true original and pioneer whose music sounds new over 60 years after he played his first note as a leader, Monk was one of the architects of modern jazz aka bebop. In fact Monk's sound and approach on piano- which combined dissonant harmonies and choppy, angular rhythms - was so startlingly unique that it wasn't until years after he was on the New York scene that the forward-thinking founders of Blue Note recorded his aptly titled debut The Genius of Modern Music in 1947. Thelonious expressed himself with originality in every aspect of his life and this was displayed in the way he spoke and dressed which often included a "bebop uniform" of beret, horn-rimmed glasses and ascot. The eccentricity which initially frightened many also was responsible for Monk's rise into mainstream culture in 1960s when he became only the third jazz musician in history to grace the cover of Time magazine.
Monk's compositions were equally as deep, distinctive and humorous as his piano playing and this collection features seven of his greatest songs. From the "Genius Vol 1 & 2" sessions we find the rollicking "Well You Needn't", blues-soaked "Straight No Chaser", boppy "In Walked Bud", winding "Epistrophy" and the first recording of Monk's most famous composition, the haunting ballad "Round Midnight". "Relections" and "Misterioso" are from one of Monks rare recorded appearances as a sideman on saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins' date for Blue Note in 1957.
Straight No Chaser