Thelonious Monk

The Very Best

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This succinct collection brings together a Monk's dozen from Thelonious Monk's nearly five-year stay (1947-1952) with Blue Note Records, including early recordings of such Monk standards as "Ruby My Dear," "Well, You Needn't," and "In Walked Bud," as well as his twin signature pieces, "'Round Midnight" and "Straight, No Chaser." Also here are three compositions full of that skittering, angular zigzag logic for which Monk is the only template: "Misterioso," "Epistrophy," and "Criss Cross," each of which seems as simple as a bamboo box, until, that is, you try to take it apart to see how it works. Monk left Blue Note to record with Prestige, Riverside, and eventually Columbia, and he returned to the compositions represented here many, many times, but the essential blueprint stayed unchanged: brilliant, circular constructions crafted with the same sort of complex, internal logic that makes the Rubik's cube so fascinating.

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