Thelonious Monk

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While discs on either Blue Note or OJC offer more preferable introductory material, this collection of jazz standards culled from Monk's '60s stay at Columbia still showcases the pianist in a fine light. One catch, though: Monk was one of the all-time great jazz composers and this disc includes not one of his masterpieces. But, then again, Monk also was one of the most original interpreters of the jazz cannon, and that's made clear here on such highlights as "Tea for Two" and "Liza"; plus, one gets the chance to savor both the solo genius of the man and one of his best backing bands (tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore, and drummer Ben Riley). Not essential certainly, but a very enjoyable listen all the same.

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