Thelonious Monk
Monk's Dream



by ZIG USER (25 Reviews)
February 24th, 2023 | 5 replies

Release Date: 1963 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Genius' Chimera

While "Monk's Dream," released in 1963, was not a turning point in Thelonious Monk's artistic career, it was certainly an important milestone in the public acceptance of the musician and his work. Having just signed with Columbia Records, Monk's fame was catching up to his abilities.

Although the album was a commercial breakthrough, which can often be a double-edged sword, this Monk release made room for a batch of older compositions and three standards, with Just 'A Gigolo' and 'Body and Soul' beautifully revisited, along with only one single, Bright Mississippi, the only track on the album that the artist had not previously recorded.

With a sound that is his alone and no one else's, trying to rank or even suggest one Thelonious Monk album over another is an almost impossible task. It is interesting to note that he composed most of his best songs before the age of thirty. His rhythmic sense is so unique, although not overdone. Monk had a great sense of humor, often introducing a note that sounds so obviously wrong, only to have the whole band play that note the same way the next time.

His solos are nothing more than a lesson in refinement, often relying on melodies that are reduced to simply playing them with the simplest of embellishments. If there is one weakness, it is that it has a greater number of covers than originals, compared to his previous works. Still, Bolivar Blues is one of the artist's best songs, and this is his definitive version.

With Monk, covers of well-known songs are always different from what you would expect from any other musician. In their own way, these can give a unique insight into the artist. Above all, this was one of those moments of convergence where everything culminated in the quartet. The band simply sounds great, the songs chosen are excellent, and Monk's ability to make every solo sing makes the album eminently listenable.

If innovation characterizes the era at Blue Note, and the expansion of its concepts characterizes the Riverside period, some softened edges in the sharper angles of its music characterize the Columbia period. His uptempo rhythms can be very unconventional, though extremely easy to follow, while his ballads are sometimes almost unrestrained enough to make repeating the music.

All in all, "Monk's Dream" is definitely his best work on Columbia Records and the perfect introduction to the genius of Thelonious Monk. Accessible enough for jazz neophytes and unusual enough to appeal to veterans. This album is a sort of cross between his eccentric bebop up to that point and the more commercial recordings that mark the final phase of his career. While other albums may be more faithful to his idiosyncratic style, "Monk's Dream" finds the pianist exuberantly at the height of his powers.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
February 24th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

Mort's reviewless records PT2 #1


Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2023


Niiiice, getting em done

Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2023


"His uptempo rhythms can be very unconventional, though extremely easy to follow, while his ballads are sometimes almost unrestrained enough to make repeating the music."

Sentence reads kind of awkwardly and might be just missing a word or two at the end, otherwise great review

February 25th 2023


If you want a couple of writing pointers:

A sound that’s his alone and no one else’s - no one else’s is redundant, his alone already makes the point

Jazz compositions are generally called pieces, not songs; same for calling a rendition of a traditional a cover

I know angles technically have edges, but tying them together as a metaphor sounds really clunky

Decent writing though, and obviously feel free to ignore this, what the fuck do I know?!?

May 11th 2024


Album Rating: 4.5

Listening to this now. So damn good.

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