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Thelonious Monk: Monk's Music

Thelonious Monk Septet: Monk’s Music (Riverside, 1957)

The front cover alone warrants its inclusion in the pantheon of great jazz recordings. But considering that both Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane perform on it and that it features several of Monk’s best-known tunes (“Well You Needn’t,” “Ruby, My Dear,” and “Crepuscule with Nellie”), this album also musically deserves its ranking as an all-time classic. Of course, the brilliant composer did tend to repeat songs in his discography. As Robin Kelley explained in his insightful biography of Monk, the pianist was recovering from numerous tragedies and travails when he recorded Monk’s Music, which then led to a triumphant personal and professional rebound that was neither his first nor his last. LEE MERGNER

[This is one instance—and there will be another—in which our self-imposed “one leader album per decade” rule is particularly galling. Suffice it to say that if you like Monk’s Music, you’ll want to hear at least three more albums Monk recorded during this same period: Brilliant Corners, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, and Thelonious in Action. –Ed.]

Learn more about Monk’s Music on Amazon and Apple Music.