Review Summary: A Brilliant Bebop record, that's should not be left out as a footnote.
The best jazz works are organized sloppiness, and it's what made Thelonious Monk the genius that he was. On Genius of Modern Music Volume 1
, Monk presented a tight, unique stature for his work to flow. On Brilliant Corners
, he let it flow.
As a whole, Brilliant Corners
might be the Magnum Opus of all that is Bebop. No other record has the essence of fast and hard, bouncy jazz like Corners
does. When some parts are an obvious Bop parsody, others are freely played, with soul and a laid back atmospheres. It wholly emphasizes the best of Jazz, and tries to bring it all as one work of art, and Thelonious Monk achieved it with Gold Standards.
It's hard to see exactly how he wrote Brilliant Corners
. Some parts sound like it was written in a rage of jazz genius. Others sound like it was carefully woven, in a strict, yet loose flow. However, there is no question that it is highly complex and difficult to master as Monk and his band did. In fact, the title track took twelve takes in the studio to get it down, and it was worth it. If there is any work that proves Thelonious Monk's genius, it's this. Not only has he constructed a introspective jazz masterpiece, but his playing is phenomenal. He could have very easily shown off his flashy moves and try to impress people by taking the old route down. But instead, he took his talent and hid it until it gets more sophisticated and stylistic, until you realize you've sunken in deeply into his playing. All in all, listening to Thelonious Monk play is like being hypnotized into musical greatness.
And that's not saying Monk was the only player. The then twenty seven year old Sonny Rollins had already proven himself a virtuoso, playing with Monk on Genius of Modern Music
and many other recordings, continued to solidify his hold as one of the smoothest Tenor Saxophonists that roamed the earth. At times he just seems to be in the back mix, not trying to even play a lead part. But then he leads you back to realty, with some more introspective, yet intense, sax lines. On the trumpet, we have Clark Terry, who already has been proven as a respectful leader, let alone contributor. His marks are few, but he lays some clever lines especially in the self titled number. Out of all the players, he is the most old fashioned which is what his style suits him.
The rhythm section of Max Roach (drums), Oscar Pettiford (double bass), and Paul Chambers (double bass), prove themselves effective and come out best on the last track, Bemsha Swing, a rather fast paced song, where Oscar shows some of his best work. The slightest problem, is that the tempo changes too quickly at times to organize what might've been a very slow and deponing tunes, into a frantic scramble. Because of the using of two bass players, the music is very deep and dense, which gives it a warm feeling, something that jazz uses to it's advantage.
Like John Coltrane's discography, there are no bad aspects, though so some that might not suit everyone. The tempo changes might scare a new listener, and, however great it is, Clark Terry's trumpet work would jump out as a unusual aspect, considering the slightly more experimental nature of Brilliant Corners
. These minor cons, however, leave a small mark in the genius of this record. If there is any jazz record that flows it is this one. It's complex and difficult, but as a listen, it flows.