Thelonious Monk: The Unique Thelonious Monk LP
Wax Love present a reissue of the seven-song The Unique Thelonious Monk, originally released in 1956. The release was the pianist's second during his remarkable five-year tenure on Riverside.
His debut for the label was the aptly titled Plays Duke Ellington (1955) and once again, on this disc, Thelonious Monk's song selection did not feature any original compositions. Rather, the well-chosen standards included exemplify and help further establish the pianist and bandleader within the context of familiar melodies at the head of a trio -- consisting of Oscar Pettiford (bass) and Art Blakey (drums). Regarding the personnel, while Pettiford had also accompanied Monk on the Ellington sides, Blakey replaces Kenny Clarke.
The pairing of Monk and Blakey cannot be overstated. Immediately, evidence of their uncanny instrumental interaction is the rhythmic focal point of "Liza, All the Clouds'll Roll Away" as the two play musical cat-and-mouse. They cajole and wheedle atop Pettiford's undulating undercurrent as it sonically corals their skilled syncopation and otherwise inspired mile-a-minute interjections. This is starkly contrast to the haunting, lyrical piano solo on "Memories Of You". Monk infuses the piece with such profound ingenuity and integrity that his re-evaluation and innovative arrangement are singularly and undeniably his own.