Top Artists – Thelonious Monk

Miles Davis – Thelonious Monk – Miles & Monk at Newport

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Columbia 360 LP has EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD LIVE JAZZ SOUND, but only on the Monk side. It sounds, to my mind, probably as good as this record can sound. It’s very rich and full-bodied with a very strong bottom end. The energy and presence are WONDERFUL! Monk’s piano has real weight and the brass sounds just right. We played this against a few other copies and none of them came close. We give side two an A++ — I don’t think you can find one that sounds any better.

Of special note is the excellent work of Frankie Dunlap on drums, and of course Charlie Rouse is always interesting. Add to those top players somone you wouldn’t normally associate with Monk — Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, here proving that he’s every bit the bop jazz musician that these other guys are.

The Miles side sounds like what you’d expect from an old jazz concert recording — somewhat thin, flat, and lifeless. We didn’t give it a grade, and we’ve never heard one that sounded very good. I just don’t think Hot Stampers for the Miles side are in the cards.  (more…)

Straight, No Chaser – Now That’s a Piano


If you want to hear just how good Monk’s big, rich piano can sound, look no further.

Rudy Van Gelder, eat your heart out. This is the piano sound Rudy never quite managed. Some say it’s the crappy workhorse piano he had set up in his studio. Others say it was just poorly miked. Rather than speculating on something we know little about (good pianos and the miking) let’s just say that Columbia had the piano, the room and the mics to do it right as you can easily hear on this very record. (more…)

The Recordings of Thelonious Monk – These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

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More of Some that Didn’t Make the Grade



These are just some of the recordings by Thelonious Monk that we’ve auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records. 

Thelonious Monk Albums with Hot Stampers

Thelonious Monk Albums We’ve Reviewed

Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington in 1955

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More Plays Duke Ellington


  • Monk’s brilliant interpretations of Duke Ellington classics come to life with Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides of this wonderful mono LP
  • Clear and open, with rock-solid bass and a present, full-bodied piano, this copy delivers 1955 piano trio magic in spades
  • One of our favorites by Monk, this album includes 8 Ellington classics such as “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mood Indigo” and quite a few more
  • 4 stars: “The delicacy and inherently intricate melodies that Duke Ellington is best known for are perfectly matched to Monk’s angular and progressive interpretations.” 

This album was originally released on Riverside in 1955, and was the first 12 inch disc the label chose to put out, in mono of course. As we all know, a mono recording only sounds right in mono. And this copy sounds very right indeed.

This copy has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that most modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what good Analog is known for — this sound. (more…)