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Art Blakey Jazz Messengers – Caravan
This is an event: the Riverside debut of Art Blakey's assertive and stimulating band, in an album that finds the group celebrating its new affiliation by performing at top level form. The name "Messengers" has been an apt description of Art's several groups down through the years to this sextet. For the ability to communicate directly to an audience - to deliver the message - is and always has been a Blakey hallmark.
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Bill Evans Trio – Everybody Digs Bill Evans
Today's Jazz world is a crowded, highly competitive marketplace in which it is difficult for the listener to avoid utter confusion, and all too easy for important talents to be lost someplace in the shuffle. Fortunately, it is no problem at all to arm Evans against the probability of such a fate.
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Sonny Rollins – The Sound of Sonny
Sonny Rollins was only 26 years old when he recorded this, his first Riverside album, but he was an eight-year veteran of the jazz big leagues. He had worked with Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Group, among others. His style, personal and eccentric but deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and in American popular song, made him the most talked-about young tenor saxophonist in the mid-1950s.
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The Wes Montgomery Trio
Montgomery is, to put it bluntly, a jazz guitarist unlike any other you have ever heard. Self-taught, playing without a pick, he apparently just never knew that it isn't possible to octaves and block chords on this instrument - and therefore he does play them, in some of the most astonishing solos imaginable. And in this guitar-organ-drums trio he has developed a rich and strikingly distinctive sound that is sure to make a great many people listen hard, and listen often.
Thelonious Monk – The Unique Thelonious Monk
This is Monk in top form: swinging, lyrical, provocative, well able to stand the test of time. Thus it seemed appropriate to us to celebrate the "new" status of Monk by offering this lastingly valuable and enjoyable LP for the particular attention of the very large and still growing group of more recent Thelonious Monk enthusiasts.
Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Alone in San Francisco
The varied catalog of memorable Riverside albums by Thelonious Monk includes two solo-piano efforts. Producer Orrin Keepnews remembers them as equally successful but strikingly different projects. The 1957 Thelonious Himself was recorded in New York on three separate nights and involved much creative ferment and many re-takes. This album was accomplished with remarkable ease in Northern California two years later, in two brief sessions on consecutive afternoons (one preceded by lunch at a family-style Italian restaurant), with only one of the ten selections (a totally unfamiliar old pop tune arbitrarily chosen at the last moment) requiring more than one take.
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Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan – Mulligan Meets Monk
Since it is only in fiction, legend and superficial histories of jazz that there is supposed to be either indifference or active dislike between various schools of jazz, there should be nothing at all surprising in the revelation that Gerry and Thelonious have always had strongly positive feelings about each other's music. What may be more surprising is that there is a long-standing bond of personal friendship between them, and that the idea of playing together has long been a very appealing one to both men. Consequently, the suggestion that they record jointly made immediate sense to both.
Thelonious Monk Quartet – Misterioso
(Recorded at the Five Spot Cafe, New York City : August 1958 The most impressive point to be made about his record is that it is a product of precisely the same night's work as the earlier Riverside album, Thelonious Action; the two are in all respects a matched set. On the evening of August 7, 1958, recording equipment was rather precariously set up in the always-overcrowded Five Spot, the room where Monk had made his triumphant recent return to the New York club scene and was now appearing with a new quartet featuring Johnny Griffin. This turned out to be the first successful live recording of Thelonious (he had rejected the results of a night's work here a month earlier), and the substantial number of Monk-approved performances were readily programmed onto two full and equally memorable albums.
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Thelonious Monk Quartet – Thelonious in Action
The place: one of New York’s most celebrated jazz rooms, the Five Spot. The time: summer 1958. The leader is the great Thelonious Monk, at the peak of his abilities as a performer and captured “in action” at the club where he first emerged into the spotlight. The band is one that has been drastically undervalued in history, largely because it was the successor to the legendary quartet that featured John Coltrane. But this group — Johnny Griffin, Roy Haynes, Ahmed Abdul-Malik and their exuberant leader — created two highly memorable in-performance albums (of which this is the first) of classic Monk repertoire.