Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane - Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane: OJC Series (180g Vinyl LP)
Original Jazz Classic Series 180g Vinyl LP Reissue Cut from the Original Master Tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and Pressed at RTI
Craft Recordings announces the relaunch of Original Jazz Classics – the acclaimed reissue series that faithfully presented more than 850 memorable jazz albums over three decades. Original Jazz Classics will relaunch with two of its foundational releases: the seminal Workin' With the Miles Davis Quintet on April 28 followed by Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane on May 26. Both albums have been cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Each LP is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI and housed in a replica of its original tip-on jacket.
First launched in 1982 under Fantasy Records, the imprint served as a home for the label's impressive jazz catalog – which had grown to include thousands of celebrated titles from Prestige, Galaxy, Milestone, Riverside, Debut, Contemporary, Jazzland, and Pablo. Fantasy also had its own place in jazz history, beginning in 1949 with its very first signing, Dave Brubeck. The Bay Area label was also home to the likes of Cal Tjader, Gerry Mulligan, and Vince Guaraldi. In the '80s and '90s, Original Jazz Classics became the go-to imprint for jazz reissues on vinyl, CD and cassette. Its extensive catalog not only boasted some of the most important albums ever recorded, but also long-out-of-print favorites – all of which featured original cover art and liner notes, as well as superior audio. Original OJC vinyl pressings are still praised and much sought after by jazz fans and audiophiles alike, who have gone to great lengths to document and share how to find the best-sounding pressings. However, with the relaunch of Original Jazz Classics, there is no need to search any longer.
The second release in the series, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, pairs two of history's most influential jazz artists. While they were at different stages in their careers when this 1957 session was recorded, they both possessed the same rebellious spirit – particularly when it came to pushing their craft to its limits. By the mid-'50s, Monk was an established player in the New York scene, whose complex melodies and eccentric persona were often divisive. But the pianist was thriving – having signed with Riverside Records and secured a six-month residency at The Five Spot Café. Coltrane, meanwhile, was about to release his debut as a leader, after years of being a supporting player with greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. But the chance to play alongside Monk at the Five Spot was too good of an opportunity to pass up. What transpired that summer was historic. Luckily, some of that magic was caught on tape.
Long considered to be one of the greatest collaborations of all time, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane is one of the few recordings that includes both jazz icons. Captured in July 1957, not long after the residency began, the session is comprised of Monk classics, including "Trinkle Tinkle," "Monk's Mood," and "Epistrophy" (written with Kenny Clarke) – all performed in a variety of settings, including trios, septets, and quartets. Adding additional star power are such talented players as Art Blakey (drums), Wilbur Ware (bass), Gigi Gryce (alto sax), and Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax).
Speaking to the importance of Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, AllMusic praises, "This will always be an essential item standing proudly among unearthed live sessions from Monk and Coltrane, demarcating a pivotal point during the most significant year in all types of music, from a technical and creative standpoint, but especially the jazz of the immediate future." After the Five Spot residency ended, Coltrane and Monk went their separate ways – each reaching new creative heights and international acclaim in the process. But Coltrane never forgot those influential months with the pianist. As he later reflected, "working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I learned from him in every way."
John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
Thelonious Monk, piano
Coleman Hawkins, tenor saxophone
Gigi Gryce, alto saxophone
Ray Copeland, trumpet
Wilbur Ware, bass
Art Blakey / Shadow Wilson, drums
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