Thelonious Monk Trio – Thelonious Monk Trio – Prestige/Concord Rudy Van Gelder Remasters

by | May 12, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Thelonious Monk Trio – Thelonious Monk Trio – Prestige/Concord Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series PRCD-30164 mono, 34:42 ****:

(Thelonious Monk, piano; Gary Mapp/Percy Heath, bass; Max Roach/Art Blakey, drums)

This is the reissue disc out of the five in the sixth batch of RVG Remasters which most interested me. It duplicates track-for-track the ten tracks of the original Prestige LP which Monk made when he was recording for that label from 1952 thru 1954. I have quite a Monk collection but was surprised to find neither the original LP nor the original Prestige CD of this one.  Though typically short on length to fit on a 12″ LP (actually 10″ LPs were still a big thing at this time), the recordings came from three different sessions at Van Gelder’s. As a result, there are differing rhythm sections on the various tracks, but all of the players are top flight. This was at a time when Monk hadn’t yet made the cover of TIME and was generally thought of as a quirky, somewhat nutty pianist, not a genius.

Such Monk classics as Trinkle Tinkle, Little Rootie Tootie and Bemsha Swing are among the tunes here, heard in some of their earliest and freshest interpretations. Monk’s piano sounds like an upright, and it’s not in perfect tune. Plus he makes considerable vocal sounds a la Glenn Gould! (Columbia, Blue Note and others seemed to find a way to shut him up in later recordings.) The sonics are fine – more of Van Gelder’s “deep mono” work, and probably improved over previous versions (if I had on hand the previous versions). And the mid-price is right. Van Gelder remastered his original analog tapes to 24-bit digital.  I don’t know whether that was at a higher sampling rate than 44.1K, but with a major percentage of collectors now playing their CDs on combination DVD/CD players, why doesn’t Concord – and the major labels too – issue their recordings with audiophile pretensions as 96K DVDs? Then those highly-touted technical advances would really be audible – instead of downsampled to 44.1K/16-bit CDs!

TrackList: Blue Monk, Just a Gigolo, Bemsha Swing, Reflections, Little Rootie Tootie, Sweet and Lovely, Bey-Ya, Monk’s Dream, Trinkle Tinkle, These Foolish Things

– John Henry

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