Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins – Thelonious Monk And Sonny Rollins (1956/2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins – Thelonious Monk And Sonny Rollins (1956/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 34:04 inutes | 338 | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | © Prestige Records
Recorded: November 13, 1953 at WOR Studios, New York, NY; September 22 & October 25, 1954 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ
Remastered: 2006, Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Thelonious Monk’s years as a Prestige recording artist (1952-1954) were tough times for the legendary composer/pianist. Unable to work in New York clubs due to the unjust loss of his cabaret card, and misunderstood when not ignored by listeners as well as many musicians, Monk’s profile was sustained primarily by his appearances as both leader and sideman on a series of Prestige sessions released in the then-new LP format.

The present collection, which samples three of those sessions, appeared as critics and fans were beginning to catch up to Monk’s singular genius and remains one of the best introductions to his iconoclastic brilliance. Three tracks feature leading Monk disciple Sonny Rollins, hitting early peaks on two standards and stretching out on “Friday the 13th,” plus a pair of tracks in which Monk’s greatest studio trio (with Percy Heath on bass and Art Blakey on drums) introduce the classic “Work” and “Nutty.”

This disc contains an all-star cast headed up by Thelonious Monk (piano) and includes some collaborative efforts with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax) that go beyond simply inspired and into a realm of musical telepathy. The five tunes included on Work are derived from three separate sessions held between November of 1953 and September of the following year. As is often the case, this likewise means that there are three distinct groups of musicians featured. Whether by design or happenstance, the tracks compiled for this EP present Monk in the favorable confines and settings of smaller combos, ranging from the intimacy of the Percy Heath (bass) and Art Blakey (drums) trio on “Nutty” as well as the equally grooving title track. Both utilize Monk’s uncanny and distinct sense of melody and are conspicuous for Blakey’s rollicking percussive contributions — which, at times, become thrust between Monk’s disjointed chord work. The larger quartet and quintet settings are equally as inventive, retaining the highly inventive atmosphere. However, the undeniable highlight is the interaction between Monk and Rollins. Leading off the disc is a definitive and freewheeling reading of the pop standard “The Way You Look Tonight.” Equally as scintillating is “I Want to Be Happy,” both of which are also highlighted by Art Taylor (drums) and Tommy Potter (bass). They provide a supple and unencumbered framework for the soloists to weave their inimitable and often contrasting contributions. The final track is the beautifully dissonant and extended “Friday the Thirteenth,” which is ironically the first fortuitous collaboration between the two co-leads. Rollins is able to entwine a sinuous lead throughout Monk’s contrasting chord counterpoint. Enthusiasts seeking additional tracks from these and the remainder of Monk’s sessions during his brief residency with Prestige should consider the suitably titled four-CD Complete Prestige Recordings compilation. –AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer

Tracklist:
1. The Way You Look Tonight 05:12
2. I Want To Be Happy 07:44
3. Work 05:18
4. Nutty 05:17
5. Friday The 13th 10:33

Personnel:
Thelonious Monk, piano
Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone on “The Way You Look Tonight,” “I Want to Be Happy,” and “Friday the 13th”
Julius Watkins, french horn on “Friday the 13th”
Percy Heath, bass on “Work,” “Nutty,” and “Friday the 13th”
Tommy Potter, bass on “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I Want to Be Happy
Art Taylor, drums on “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I Want to Be Happy”
Art Blakey, drums on “Work” and “Nutty”
Willie Jones, drums on “Friday the 13th” 

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