Thelonious Monk: Caravan




Thelonious Monk (piano)


Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (Riverside OJCCD-024-2)

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Thelonious Monk (piano), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol & Irving Mills


Recorded: New Jersey, July 1955


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

     Charles Delaunay and Thelonious Monk, 1954
                   Photo by Marcel Fleiss

Plays Duke Ellington is an album that has never sat well with critics. One suspects that’s because people were left wondering why the second-greatest composer in the history of jazz bothered to record an album of tunes by the greatest composer in the history of jazz. But that fails to do justice to the album on its own merits. Considered in that light, this is a wonderfully jarring collection of fresh treatments – and maybe the finest record of Ellington covers. On “Caravan,” the melody is there all right, and Monk doesn’t dare violate the song’s integrity, but he does find ways to add his imprimatur. “Caravan” is the final track on the disc, and it’s the perfect other bookend to his wink-and-a-nod treatment of the opener, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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