There really isn’t too much that I can add to the two descriptions below on each of both volumes. Here we have two albums that are a piece of music history, “Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 was recorded as early as 1947 and “Genius of Modern Music Vol. 2” was recorded in 1952. There are many songs in these albums that were not released in any other Monk album, why you ask, great question! Every true Jazz fan and/or Jazz Aficionado should have these two Monk classics in their library, enjoy!
About the album Vol. 1:
The innovations of pianist/composer Thelonious Monk are often lumped together with those of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, as if his work was some kind of aesthetic footnote to their bebop revolution. In fact, this great composer established a parallel stream of modern jazz that is a universe unto itself. The music on these first Blue Note sessions is so brimming with joy and cosmic architecture, it’s difficult to believe people once viewed Thelonious Sphere Monk’s work as hopelesssly oblique. Born in Rocky Mount, NC on October 10, 1917, Monk was brought up in the San Juan Hill section of Manhattan. He began playing piano at eleven, and soon went on the road with a touring revivalist. Some writers have speculated that his acerbic voicings and angular melodic lines were influenced in part by traditional blues and church music (not to mention the rickety old upright pianos he encountered along the way). However, by the time his work was first documented with electric guitarist Charlie Christian, Monk was clearly emerging from the stride tradition of pianists such as James P. Johnson. By the time tenor saxophone patriarch Coleman Hawkins……Learn More
About Vol. 2:
The music of pianist/composer Thelonious Monk has always inspired profound devotion amongst the hippest fans and musicians. Swing ear stars such as Coleman Hawkins and Cootie Williams were among his earliest and most vocal admirers, while Monk’s influence on Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane (among others) was profound. As a result, his remarkable body of written work and recordings form an aesthetic cornerstone of modern jazz. And yet, because of the challenging nature of his music, his fabled personal eccentricities, and some trumped-up criminal charges which cost him his cabaret card (essentially denying him the opportunity to perform in any New York City establishment serving liquor, between 1951 and ’57), recognition and success were a long time coming for this American original. The works contained on GENIUS OF MODERN MUSIC, VOL. 2 are some of the most remarkable performances and compositions in the history of American music, featuring some of Monk’s greatest collaborations. With its bluesy outline, classic rhythmic breaks and superb melodic contours, “Straight No Chaser” has been a jazz standard since Monk first introduced it with this recording. Art Blakey’s animated 12-bar intro sets a perfect tempo with an implied triplet feeling, as Monk’s solo proceeds directly from Al McKibbon’s sturdy two-beat pulse and the drummer’s polyrhythmic proddings. Monk’s laid-back groove belies the fierce tension his rhythmic gamesmanship, percussive dissonances, pregnant pauses, horn-like phrases and bluesy bent tones impart. All Monk tunes are full of teasing interactive themes and startling structural contrasts. As an accompanist, Monk doesn’t simply feed vibraphone soloist Milt Jackson chordal backgrounds on the jagged “Criss Cross”–he enunciates a secondary theme of orchestral gravity. And few musicians are willing or able to take on the daunting melodic and rhythmic challenges……Learn More