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Thelonious Monk: The Complete Prestige Recordings

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Most of the attention given to Monk’s records goes to the volumes of great work done for Riverside and Columbia, or to the trail-blazing Blue Note sides. Some of us also have a soft spot for the beautiful coda Alfred Lion provided with the Black Lion 1971 recordings, and the solo date recorded in Paris in 1954 is often singled out as a masterpiece.

The Prestige recordings, which date from the same period (Monk in fact played hooky from his Prestige contract for the French date), are generally overlooked, but this reissue should help rectify that situation. Included are all of Monk’s appearances for the label as a sideman, which might miff collectors who already own some of the other material, but then nothing here is new to CD anyway-though the excellent notes by Peter Keepnews are a strong attraction on their own. Keepnews mixes in more entertaining anecdotes and incisive commentary about his subject than some jazz biographers seem able to manage in whole books.

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