Thelonious Monk: Thelonious




Thelonious Monk (piano)


Underground (Legacy 63535)

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Thelonious Monk (piano), Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass), Ben Riley (drums).

Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: December 14 and 21, 1967 and February 14 and December 14, 1968


Rating: 80/100 (learn more)

Monk's tribute to himself is a linear swing that surprisingly does not deviate far from the chart. The tune is performed well, but it represents a second-tier Monk recording in many obvious ways. Certainly he is best known for bending chords, notes and phrases so far out of whack as to extend their sustain far beyond merely a few measures. However, this track is short and succinct, and, although it has been featured on Monk compilations, those seeking more of the interplanetary explorer in him should look elsewhere. Even though the track is brief and the form is easy to grasp, it is not one of his more cryptic statements. In Monk's case, his reputation rests on the pursuit and presentation of thought-provoking music, and while "Thelonious" is excellent, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of what this genius was capable of. Music does not have to be challenging to establish relevance, but even those who are familiar with few of Monk's works will be disappointed by the lack of abstractness. The recording winds up in more commercial territory due to its predictable, straightforward nature, sounding much less "underground" than the CD title suggests.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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