After returning from his trip to Philadelphia, in mid-1957, Coltrane accepted Monks offer and joined his band for a period of six months. They played at New Yorks Five Spot Café in a quartet format, but their studio records are limited to what is included on this release. Although all the musicians play beautifully here, what is perhaps most interesting is the presence of tenor sax giants John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins playing in the same session.
The complete studio master takes by the Thelonious Monk Quartet and Septet featuring John Coltrane. Included, as a bonus, is the 13 minute performance of Blues For Tomorrow from the same sessions (in which Monk sits out) and an outstanding alternate take of Off Minor.
01. Monks Mood
02. Abide With Me
03. Well You Neednt
04. Off Minor
06. Crepuscule With Nellie
08. Ruby My Dear
09. Trinkle Tinkle
10. Blues For Tomorrow (*) Bonus Track
11. Off Minor (*) Alternate Take
Total time: 79:12 min.
Track #1 originally appears on the 12" LP "Thelonious Himself" (Riverside RLP 12-235).
Tracks #2-6 from the 12" LP "Monk's Music" (Riverside RLP 12-242).
Tracks #7-9 & 11 from the 12" LP Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane" (Jazzland JLP 46).
Personnel on track #1: John Coltrane (ts) and Thelonious Monk (p) and Wilbur Ware (b). Recorded in New York, on April 16, 1957.
Personnel on tracks #2-6, 10-11: John Coltrane (ts) and Thelonious Monk (p), Ray Copeland (tp), Gigi Gryce (as), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Wilbur Ware (b) and Art Blakey (d). Recorded in New York, on April 26, 1957. Track #10 Thelonious Monk out.
Personnel on tracks #7-9: John Coltrane (ts) and Thelonious Monk (p), Wilbur Ware (b) and Shadow Wilson (d). Recorded in New York, on July, 1957.
"Monk's Music is often cited as one of the focal points of Thelonious Monk's six-year affiliation (1955-1961) with the Riverside label. Although the original disc clocked in at slightly over 30 minutes, packed into that half hour are not only the introduction of a few of Monk's signature compositions, but also some amazing interactions from the assembled ensemble. Joining Thelonious Monk (piano) during these two recording sessions are Ray Copeland (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wilbur Ware (bass), and Art Blakey (drums). The true meaning of the album's title exists beyond just Thelonious, as the opening sacred prelude, "Abide With Me," was written by William H. Monk. This brief piece features only the horn quartet, foreshadowing their importance throughout the album. The angular stride style featured during the chorus of "Well You Needn't" is tackled with the same nimble authority as Monk's completely unfettered solos. If his ability to swing and his utilization of atomic clock accuracy have ever been questioned, the answer lies no further. So utterly free and fantastic, certain passages command immediate review to be fully comprehended. Hearing Coltrane and Hawkins together is admittedly part of the charm in these sides. "Ruby, My Dear" is bathed in the smoky essence of Hawkins' rich textures and Coltrane's playful cat-and-mouse aggression. Blakey gently propels the rhythm, never getting in the way and sporting a serene snare groove throughout. "Off Minor" is largely led by Monk, with solos that follow into and out of the memorable chorus that sparkles with the full involvement of the horn and rhythm sections. The same is true for this definitive version of "Epistrophy" - perhaps the zenith collaborative effort between Coltrane and Monk. Additionally, Blakey is in top form, with a solo that borders on spastic precision. The CD reissue includes two additional versions of both "Off Minor" and the hauntingly beautiful "Crepuscule With Nellie" - which debuted on this album."
-Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane
"What this disc lacks in program time is more than compensated for in content. While the teaming of Thelonious Monk (piano) with John Coltrane (tenor sax) might "look better on paper," as the adage goes, rest assured the results are even better on the disc. These were the same bountiful sessions that produced the Monk's Music and Thelonious Himself long-players. As such, Coleman Hawkins also joins the proceedings on two tracks - "Off Minor" and "Epistrophy." Unlike the version featured on Monk's Music, this reading of "Ruby, My Dear" features a Coltrane-led solo. He matches Hawkins' scintillating heat with his uncanny timing and syncopation, nestling Monk's chord progressions into his lines. The arithmetical "Trinkle, Tinkle" perfectly blends Coltrane's ability to swing into and out of some very precarious situations. Glimpses of his "sheets of sound" are augmented by some choice chord vamps from Monk. So in tune are Coltrane and Monk that the slightest alteration in pacing or attack is met with a response. Although the version of "Off Minor" featured here is considered a leftover or alternate take from the Monk's Music disc, in many ways its stark outbursts are best suited on this compilation. Hawkins' contributions cannot be overstated. His stately swinging offers a perfect balance to Monk's dizzy and off-kilter performance. "Functional" is a solo blues that extends well beyond the standard 12-bar structure and explores some of the various piano dialects that have become the signature of Monk's solos."
Both by Lindsay Planer -All Music Guide