Take 1: The 1957 meetings of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane produced some of bop’s most thrilling music. There’s the gorgeous, glacially slow “Monk’s Mood,” with its heartbreaking piano intro followed by a sublime saxophone statement-the only track from “Thelonious Himself” that wasn’t Thelonious himself. There’s Coltrane’s vicious solo on “Nutty” that starts off at warp speed and slows to the point where you think, for a split second, that he’s going to play the melody, and then he takes off again. There’s the rarely heard “Blues for Tomorrow,” a delicious piece of straight bebop (composed by Gigi Gryce) that stands alongside the best work of any Monk group. And there are the back-to-back readings of “Ruby, My Dear”-one featuring Coltrane, the other featuring Coleman Hawkins-that could produce a doctoral dissertation comparing the tenor greats.
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