Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane

Music Reviews Thelonious Monk Quartet
Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane

Recent find uncovers two jazz legends in masterful form

Billed under the auspicious title “Thanksgiving Jazz,” this crate-digging find must’ve felt like gold to Larry Appelbaum. In January 2005 the Library of Congress Recording Labs supervisor unearthed unmarked tapes from a 1957 show featuring Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, and Monk with Trane. The sax player had blown his previous gig with Miles Davis due to his nagging heroin addiction, and was just beginning his infamous investigation of Buddhism. His redefinition of “cool” begins with sets like this, effervescently decorating Monk’s ivory-tinkering on “Monk’s Mood,” “Evidence” and “Nutty.” Monk’s trademark freeform changes helped develop Trane’s dexterity—hear the evidence on “Bye-Ya,” where he inserts phrases from other classics. Filled out by bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and drummer Shadow Wilson, these 52 minutes represent the turning point of modern jazz. Consider this an archeological masterpiece, as sonically enjoyable as it is historically crucial.

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