Thelonious Monk: The Art of the Ballad

Monk’s entry in the Prestige ballad series is spectacular. Orrin Keepnews’s work with this musician is legendary and many of the important recordings are presented here. This is essential Monk for any collector that begins and ends with 1957 recordings of “Ruby My Dear.” One might call the program ballads, but Monk never lets the swing leave, and there’s not a moment devoid of interest. What’s offered are many of his compositions-“‘Round Midnight,” “Crepuscle with Nellie,” “Pannonica,”-and laced with standards, including a wonderful “Sweet and Lovely” from the Monk Meets Mulligan recording on Riverside.