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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.


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SKU: Riverside 1190 (45) [2] Categories: , , , , Tags: , ,


While in exceptional form, Monk is far from casting the only or even the brightest light during these unforgettable sides. Joining him on-stage at the legendary Five Spot club are: Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass), and Roy Haynes. It’s unfortunate that this unit did not remain together for any length of time as they are able to launch Monk’s compositions into some fairly significant places. Johnny Griffin’s aggressive performance style incorporates a lyrical and melodic undertone perfectly complementing Monk’s sporadic inflections. “Coming On the Hudson” features Griffin weaving his magic around the melody while providing a decisive Coltrane-esque counterpoint to which Monk precariously locates his responses. The intensity of “Rhythm-A-Ning” lifts the whole combo after quickly developing the chorus. Griffin builds line upon melodic line, after which Monk responds in kind by adding distinct punctuations of his own. So powerful is Griffin’s onslaught, Monk can be heard indicating more than once that Griffin should indulge in another verse. After a ragged but right beginning, “Evidence” becomes transcendental with Griffin, Monk, Malik, and Haynes — who is frenetically brilliant throughout — diving into solos which envelop the melody and ultimately expand the unique patterns and motivations.


1. Light Blue
2. Coming on the Hudson
3. Rhythm-A-Ning
4. Epistrophy (Theme)
1. Blue Monk
2. Evidence
3. Epistrophy (Theme)



Additional information

Weight 0.700 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm