With his odd, angular piano style full of endless stops and spaces and baffling chord resolutions, not to mention his unique circular compositions, Thelonious Monk was bop's mad scientist, an image that tended to confuse his absolute genius with the trappings of mere eccentricity. Monk was Monk, pure and simple, and if what one saw wasn't always necessarily what one got, well, that too was pure Monk. This collection assembles nine discs (the tenth disc is a tribute to Monk) of his earliest sides like "Drifting on a Reed," recorded in 1944 when Monk was the pianist for Coleman Hawkins, as well as material he recorded for Prestige Records and a nice selection of Monk's 1947 and 1948 tracks for Blue Note Records. Since Monk changed little to not at all as his career progressed, the core themes and approaches to his music are all here in these mid-'40s cuts, full of a restless and even reckless energy that Monk would only occasionally reach for at future sessions. There's a ton of stuff here, so this box is a nice way to get a lot of essential early Monk for not a whole lot of money. Each disc is pretty brief, though (everything here would easily fit on five discs), and the packaging is nothing special and includes no liner notes.
|Flyin' Hawk||Thelonious Monk||2:49|
|Drifting on a Reed||Thelonious Monk||3:04|
|On the Bean||Thelonious Monk||2:53|
|Monk's Mood||Thelonious Monk||3:08|
|Who Knows||Thelonious Monk||2:42|
|April in Paris||Thelonious Monk||3:22|