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thelonious monk columbia album discography & price guide

THELONIOUS MONK was per­haps the most styl­is­ti­cally and ar­tis­ti­cally idio­syn­cratic (and vi­sionary?) pi­anist and com­poser of his era. By the end of the ’50s, Monk was al­ready a legend among jazz mu­si­cians and afi­cionados. He had also had it with dealing with tiny River­side Records. As was and is common with mu­si­cians and their record com­pa­nies, there were dis­agree­ments over money.

After pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tions, Monk signed with Co­lumbia Records in 1962. He had not recorded a studio album since the ses­sions for the 5 BY MONK BY 5 album in June 1959. Working with staff pro­ducer Teo Macero, he cut an album in four ses­sions over one week, and Co­lumbia is­sued MONK’S DREAM in the first weeks of Jan­uary 1963.

 

Monk’s music is provoca­tive, filled with highly un­usual bits and pieces of the fa­miliar and un­fa­miliar.

 

In the March 14, 1963 issue of Down Beat, Pete Welding re­viewed MONK’S DREAM and stated: “This im­por­tant album, Monk’s first after a long ab­sence from the recording studio, is a stun­ning reaf­fir­ma­tion of his powers as a per­former and com­poser.”

MONK’S DREAM sold phe­nom­e­nally well, even­tu­ally be­coming the biggest selling title of his ca­reer. His al­bums with Co­lumbia over the rest of the decade also sold well, making Monk a rea­son­ably well-known name, even out­side of jazz cir­cles. By the end of the ’60s, rock fans were lis­tening to his records! (Usu­ally rock fans who were high.)

 

Photo of Thelonious Monk from 1962-1963.

Photo of Monk in Columbia’s leg­endary 30th Street Studio in New York in late 1962 or early ’63 by leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher by Jim Mar­shall.

The Thelonious Monk Quartet

Monk’s band saw sev­eral per­sonnel changes during their stay with Co­lumbia. For the sake of con­ve­nience on this project, I have num­bered them Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 1 through 4. For the mu­si­cians below, the num­bers fol­lowing their names in­di­cate which groups they were a part of:

Tenor sax
1959-1970 Charlie Rouse (1-4)

Bass
1960-1963 John Ore (1)
1963-1964 Butch Warren (2-3)
1964-1969 Larry Gales (4)

Drums
1960-1964 Frankie Dunlop (1-2)
1964-1969 Ben Riley (3-4)

 

February 28, 1964, issue of TIME with Thelonious Monk on cover.

The Feb­ruary 28, 1964, issue of Time mag­a­zine fea­tured an ar­ticle on Monk and gave him the cover, which fea­tured a striking por­trait by Boris Chali­apin. “The fact is that Monk’s Time pro­file emerged at a re­ally hot mo­ment when, on one side was the jazz avant-garde, which fairly or un-fairly was being iden­ti­fied with black na­tion­alism and rad­i­calism, and on the other side were the older swing mu­si­cians who were seen as con­ser­v­a­tive. These char­ac­ter­i­za­tions were not nec­es­sarily ac­cu­rate but what they did is em­body a po­lit­ical de­bate that was going on in the na­tion at the time –and Monk sort of gets caught in the middle.” (Robin D.G. Kelley)

Discography and price guide

This discog­raphy only in­cludes the al­bums that Monk recorded and re­leased in 1960s. Sev­eral al­bums of live record­ings from these years have been is­sued since, both here and abroad; they are not in­cluded in this discog­raphy.

There are values as­signed to both the mono and the stereo ver­sions below. The values re­flect a nearly mint (NM) record with NM la­bels in a NM jacket. Any­thing less than this will see the as­signed value drop pre­cip­i­tously.

During the ’60s, Co­lumbia shipped many ti­tles to radio sta­tions with spe­cial white label pro­mo­tional press­ings of the record. These al­most al­ways are valued higher than the reg­ular com­mer­cial pressing of the album. Oddly, jazz col­lec­tors do not place any­where near the amount of im­por­tance on these as do rock col­lec­tors. Most of the early Monk ti­tles were is­sued as white label promos.

Fi­nally, jazz col­lec­tors have long pre­ferred mono record vari­a­tions over their stereo coun­ter­parts, and that is re­flected in the values below.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM album 1963 with "New Star on Columbia" sticker.

White label promo of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM album 1963.

The first copies of Monk’s first Co­lumbia album (CL-1965) were shipped to radio sta­tions as spe­cial pro­mo­tional edi­tions. A round, silver sticker with a five-pointed star was af­fixed to the jacket that read “A New Star On Co­lumbia Records.” These stickers were used as a pro­mo­tional de­vice for the first album by a newly signed Co­lumbia artist for sev­eral years in the early ’60s. In­side most jackets with this sticker was a white label promo pressing of the record.

Reviews

While looking up the ac­tual re­lease dates for the ti­tles below in old is­sues of Bill­board, I found the oc­ca­sional re­view that the mag­a­zine did. These were gen­er­ally very short—four lines was a lengthy reviews!—and also gen­er­ally pos­i­tive.

After all, Bill­board is an in­dustry pub­li­ca­tion that helps that in­dustry push product, not get in its way. Still, the re­views below are pithy and ac­cu­rate and con­tem­po­rary with the re­lease of the album.

 

1963

Monk’s Dream

Co­lumbia CL-1965 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-8765 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM mono album 1963.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM mono album 1963.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $40-50. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM stereo album 1963.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM stereo album 1963.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 1
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
John Ore, bass
Frankie Dunlop, drums

Recorded: Oc­tober 31 and No­vember 1, 2, 6, 1962
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: Jan­uary 1963

 

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM mono album 1963 with 6-eyes logo.

Al­though Co­lumbia had tran­si­tioned from the older ‘6 eye’ logo label to a newer de­sign with just two camera/eye logos (“Guar­an­teed High Fi­delity”) de­sign, copies of CL-1965 were pressed with the old label. These are rather rare records, but can be con­sid­ered ei­ther first press­ings or sports.

 

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S DREAM stereo album 1963 on red vinyl.

At least one copy of CS-8765 is known to exist on lovely translu­cent red vinyl. While some have spec­u­lated that it was a pro­mo­tional pressing, in the record busi­ness a one-of-a-kind item can usu­ally mean that it was done without au­tho­riza­tion as an in­stant ‘man­u­fac­tured col­lec­table,’ or as an in-house gift.

“Monk does it again. His first album on Co­lumbia is provoca­tive and filled with highly un­usual bits and pieces of the fa­miliar and un­fa­miliar that have al­ways marked this artist’s cre­ative output. Body and Soul and Bright Mis­sis­sippi are two adap­ta­tions of the well-known that defy de­scrip­tion. You’ve got to hear this album to be­lieve it. Monk pulls out all the stops.” (Bill­board)

 

 

Criss-Cross

Co­lumbia CL-2038 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-8838 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's CRISS-CROSS mono album 1963 with title & timing strip.

During the early and mid 1960s, Co­lumbia af­fixed these huge stickers to the front covers of pro­mo­tional album jackets. Be­cause these stickers have the song ti­tles and their times for radio pro­gram­mers and disc-jockeys, these are re­ferred to as “title & timing strips.” Both white label promo records and reg­ular stock records can be fund in these jackets. Some col­lec­tors place a pre­mium on the value of such stock records des­ig­nated for pro­mo­tional use.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's CRISS-CROSS mono album 1963.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's CRISS CROSS mono album 1963.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's CRISS-CROSS stereo album 1963.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's CRISS CROSS stereo album 1963.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-30. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Co­lumbia often af­fixed “Not for Sale” stickers like this to the la­bels of records and shipped them off to radio sta­tions. Some col­lec­tors place a pre­mium on the value of such stock records des­ig­nated for pro­mo­tional use.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 1
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
John Ore, bass
Frankie Dunlop, drums

Recorded: No­vember 6, 1962; March 29, 1963
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: Sep­tember 1963

“Those who crit­i­cize Th­elo­nious Monk for being most dif­fi­cult to listen to will find that he’s at his most lis­ten­able best throughout this LP. His piano solo of Don’t Blame Me is sheer jazz po­etry. Monk seems to be en­joying playing Monk with his happy in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Think of Me and Hack­en­sack. (Bill­board)

 

 

1964

Big Band And Quartet In Concert

Co­lumbia CL-2164 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-8964 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's BIG BAND & QUARTET mono album 1964.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's BIG BAND & QUARTET mono album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-30. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's BIG BAND & QUARTET stereo album 1964.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's BIG BAND & QUARTET setero album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $20-25. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 2
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Butch Warren, bass
Frankie Dunlop, drums

Th­elo­nious Monk Big Band
Gene Allen, bari­tone sax­o­phone, bass clar­inet, clar­inet
Eddie Bert, trom­bone
Thad Jones, cornet
Steve Lacy, so­prano sax­o­phone
Nick Travis, trumpet
Phil Woods, alto sax­o­phone, clar­inet

Recorded: De­cember 30, 1963
Studio: Lin­coln Center at Phil­har­monic Hall, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Arranger: Hall Overton
Re­leased: March 1964

“The Monk sound goes small group and big band on the LP, and con­sid­ering his sales on the last one on Co­lumbia, this album should be even better. It’s got some stellar solos by the likes of Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse, and Monk him­self, among a flock of others.” (Bill­board)

 

 

Miles & Monk At Newport

Co­lumbia CL-2178 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-8978 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MILES & MONK AT NEWPORT mono album 1964.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MILES & MONK AT NEWPORT mono album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-30. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MILES & MONK AT NEWPORT stereo album 1964.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MILES & MONK AT NEWPORT stereo album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $20-25. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 2 and Pee Wee Rus­sell
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Butch Warren, bass
Frankie Dunlop, drums
Pee Wee Rus­sell, clar­inet

Recorded: July 4, 1963
Studio: New­port Jazz Fes­tival
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: June 1964

Side A fea­tures the Miles Davis Sextet at New­port in 1958.

“There is little else jazz fans could ask for than a New­port set­ting, the Miles Davis Sextet and the Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet. Adding to the roster of stars are John Coltrane and Can­non­ball Adderley, fea­tured with Davis; and Pee Wee Rus­sell, who helps guide Monk.” (Bill­board)

 

Monk has al­ways been one of the most in­ven­tive jazzmen in his­tory, and was part of the un­der­ground of jazz for years in post-war America.

 

It’s Monk’s Time

Co­lumbia CL-2184 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-8984 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's IT'S MONK TIME mono album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (I could not find an image for this record) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. The silver sticker on the jacket is for Co­lumbia Spe­cial prod­ucts and des­ig­nates the album as pro­mo­tional.

I didn’t see one off these stickers on an album until the Amer­ican record com­pa­nies dis­con­tinued man­u­fac­turing new ti­tles in both mono and stereo. In 1969, tens of mil­lions of monos were dumped on the market as cut-outs, selling for as little as 50¢. Co­in­ci­den­tally, this copy of IT’S MONK’S TIME has a small cut-out hole in the upper left corner.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's IT'S MONK TIME stereo album 1964.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's IT'S MONK TIME stereo album 1964.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-30. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 3
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Butch Warren, bass
Ben Riley, drums

Recorded: Jan­uary 29-30, 1964; Feb­ruary 10, 1964; March 9, 1964,
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: Au­gust 1964

 

 

1965

Monk

Co­lumbia CL-2291 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-9091 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK mono album 1965.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK mono album 1965.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $40-50. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK stereo album 1965.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK stereo album 1965.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Second press­ings with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 4
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Larry Gales, bass
Ben Riley, drums

Recorded: March 9, 1964; Oc­tober 6-8, 1964
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: Feb­ruary 1965

“Still the ruler of the ‘n’ jazz roost is Monk. His al­bums are more in de­mand than ever be­fore, and this one will find ready ac­cep­tance.” (Bill­board)

 

 

Solo Monk

Co­lumbia CL-2349 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-9149 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's SOLO MONK mono album 1965.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's SOLO MONK mono album 1965.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY in black print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $40-50. Later press­ings exist with 360 SOUND MONO at the bottom and are worth $10-15 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's SOLO MONK stereo album 1965.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's SOLO MONK mono album 1965.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk, piano

Recorded: Oc­tober 31, 1964; No­vember 2, 1964; Feb­ruary 23, 1965; March 2, 1965
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, Los An­geles (1964), Co­lumbia Studio, New York (1965)
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: May 1965

 

 

1966

Misterioso (Recorded On Tour)

Co­lumbia CL-2416 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-9216 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MISTERISIO mono album 1966.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MISTERISIO mono album 1966.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND MONO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-30. 

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MISTERISIO stereo album 1966.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MISTERISIO stereo album 1966.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $20-25. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 2 (on three tracks)
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Butch Warren, bass
Frankie Dunlop, drums

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 4 (on five tracks)
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Larry Gales, bass
Ben Riley, drums

Recorded: May 21, 1963; July 4, 1963; De­cember 30, 1963; No­vember 1, 1964; No­vember 4, 1964; Feb­ruary 27, 1965; March 2, 1965
Studio: Recorded live at var­ious lo­ca­tions
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: Oc­tober 1965

 

 

1967

Straight, No Chaser

Co­lumbia CL-2651 (mono)
Co­lumbia CS-9451 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's STRAIGHT, NO CHASER mono album 1967.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's STRAIGHT, NO CHASER mono album 1967.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND MONO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $25-35.

 

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's STRAIGHT, NO CHASER stereo album 1967.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's STRAIGHT, NO CHASER stereo album 1967.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $20-25. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 4
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Larry Gales, bass
Ben Riley, drums
Jon Hen­dricks, vo­cals

Recorded: No­vember 14-15, 1966; Jan­uary 10, 1967
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: May 1967

 

 

1968

Underground

Co­lumbia CS-9632 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND stereo album 1968.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND stereo album 1968.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $30-40. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 4
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Larry Gales, bass
Ben Riley, drums

Recorded: De­cember 14 and 21, 1967; Feb­ruary 14, 1968
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, New York
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Re­leased: May 1968

“The ge­nius of T. Sphere Monk has again been cap­tured in a new album, UNDERGROUND. And it’s clothed in one of the hip­piest jackets a record ever wore.” (Bill­board)

 

 

1969

Thelonious Monk’s Greatest Hits

Co­lumbia CS-9775 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's GREATEST HITS stereo album 1969.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's GREATEST HITS stereo album 1969.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $15-20. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

The near-black front cover sets off the very Sixties-ish let­tering, which jumps out off the back­ground. It al­ludes to the more fa­mous style of let­ters used on the Byrd’s fifth di­men­sion album. Ac­tu­ally, the title would have ben­e­fited by having a thin line of black be­tween them, helping with read­ability.

Com­pi­la­tion of pre­vi­ously re­leased album tracks by the Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 1-4.

Re­leased: April 1969

 

Monk’s Blues

Co­lumbia CS-9806 (stereo)

Front cover of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S BLUES stereo album 1969.

Label for Side 1 of Thelonious Monk's MONK'S BLIES stereo album 1969.

Orig­inal al­bums with records with first pressing la­bels with 360 SOUND STEREO in white print at the bottom (above) in NM con­di­tion are worth $15-20. Later press­ings with COLUMBIA in gold print around the perimeter are worth $5-10.

Th­elo­nious Monk Quartet 4
Th­elo­nious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor sax
Larry Gales, bass
Ben Riley, drums

Ernie Small, bari­tone sax
Howard Roberts, guitar
John Guerin, drums
Bobby Bryant, trumpet
Conte Can­doli, trumpet
Freddie Hill, trumpet
Lou Black­burn, trom­bone
Bob Bralinger, trom­bone
Billy Byers, trom­bone
Mike Wim­berley, trom­bone
Gene Cipriano, reeds
Buddy Col­lette, reeds
Homer Scott (aka Tom Scott), reeds

Recorded: No­vember 19-20, 1968
Studio: Co­lumbia Studio, Los An­geles
Pro­ducer: Teo Macero
Arranger: Oliver Nelson
Re­leased: April 1969

Monk’s music is provoca­tive, filled with bits and pieces of the fa­miliar and un­fa­miliar. Click To Tweet

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is cropped from the front cover of Monk’s 1969 album UNDERGROUND. The liner notes by Gil McKean on the back cover ex­plain the photo:

“Al­though the il­lus­tra­tion on the album cover may seem a trifle bizarre to the unini­ti­ated, knowing in­ti­mates of Monk will rec­og­nize the set­ting as that of his studio, an im­por­tant part of his Man­hattan apart­ment. In this ate­lier are the mem­o­ra­bilia of an ad­ven­turous and richly re­warding life.

Most no­tice­able, per­haps, is the Nazi storm trooper. As real as he looks, he is stuffed, a trophy of Monk’s forays as a member of the French Re­sis­tance move­ment in World War II, the famed FFI. With a cry of ‘Take that, you honkie Kraut!’ Cap­i­taine Monk shot him cleanly and truly through the heart. He weighed 187 pounds, dressed.

As real as he looks, the Nazi stormtrooper is stuffed, a trophy of Monk’s forays as a member of the French Re­sis­tance in World War II.

Th­elo­nious’ only pet is the cow who an­swers to the name Jel­ly­roll and has the run of the apart­ment. It is in­ter­esting to know that Cap­i­taine Monk had ac­cess to a piano throughout the combat and would never go on a mis­sion without warming up with some forty or fifty cho­ruses of Dark­ness on the Delta.

The field tele­phone on the wall, a me­mento of Nor­mandy, now serves as a di­rect line to Le Pavillon in the event he wishes to order a de­livery of French soul food.

The rest of the ob­jects are re­ally al­most self explanatory—the Nazi battle flag he cap­tured at Nurem­burg, the dy­na­mite he used so often on key ob­jec­tives in Ger­many, the grenades, ma­chine pistol, the .45 automatic—all of them bring tears of nos­talgia to Monk’s eyes as he thinks of action-packed years gone by.

He was part of the un­der­ground then—for years in post-war America his piano was part of the un­der­ground of jazz. Now, and in­deed for the past few years, this jazz giant is emerging as the great artist he has al­ways been, one of the most in­ven­tive jazzmen in his­tory.

Ac­tu­ally, the title of this album, UNDERGROUND is some­thing of a misnomer—Monk sur­faced long ago! He has been com­mit­ting th­elo­nious as­saults on cer­tain hide­bound en­claves of jazz since the mid-Forties, and the at­tacks are be­gin­ning to tell. Oh yes, about the girl with the firearm in the back­ground. No ex­pla­na­tion was asked, nor was one forth­coming.”

 

 

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