Good information! Craft Recordings — the boutique vinyl arm of Concord Music, who management the catalogs of Fantasy, Riverside, Milestone, and plenty of different associated labels — has duly revived the Original Jazz Classics sequence as a model imprint for the now instances. One of the primary titles being reissued by Craft below the vaunted OJC umbrella is out right now, May 26, in a brand new, 180g 1LP all-analog remastered version: Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane.
Now, reviewing a document like Thelonious Monk With John Coltraneis in some methods a bit daunting, seeing how it’s such a basic assembly of the minds between two of the good musicians and voices in jazz historical past. Accordingly, I received’t be spending a number of time dwelling on why these recordings are vital, as an incredible deal has been written by many others about this collaboration elsewhere in album liner notes and on the interwebs.
However, for many who will not be accustomed to this landmark album, some topline insights is perhaps useful. For quite a few causes, these groundbreaking jazz musicians — pianist/composer Thelonious Monk and saxophone/composer John Coltrane — solely labored collectively over a six-month window of time within the late Fifties. By then, Monk was a longtime drive in jazz and a star ascending, whereas Coltrane was about to launch his first album as a frontrunner. The pair carried out dwell at New York’s Five Spot Café and so they solely laid down a relative handful of studio recordings collectively, however what they left behind is timeless music for the ages.
Recorded in 1957 at pivotal factors in each artists’ careers and in some ways thought-about as a masterclass session, even the outtakes from this collaboration are extremely revered. Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane is definitely a part of a sequence from Riverside Records during which the duo’s periods had been unfold out over a number of albums, together with 1957’s Thelonious Himself and 1958’s Monk’s Music.
By the time of the 1961 launch of Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane, Coltrane had exploded on the scene along with his personal masterworks like February 1960’s acclaimed Giant Steps (on Atlantic), so it is smart that the Riverside label would wish to capitalize on that momentum by giving Coltrane near-parity standing with Monk within the title of an album that kind of mined the rest of the periods that had been, as of then, not issued. So excessive was the caliber of those recordings that Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane options a number of alternate takes and the three lone early recordings made with Monk’s authentic quartet from the interval (“Ruby, My Dear,” “Trinkle, Trinkle,” and “Nutty”).
From Craft Recordings’ official press launch supporting this reissue, one paragraph not solely underscored the affect this music had on the general public however on Coltrane particularly, who would in very brief order emerge as a powerhouse celebrity in his personal proper: “After the Five Spot residency ended, Coltrane and Monk went their separate methods — every reaching new artistic heights and worldwide acclaim within the course of. But Coltrane by no means forgot these influential months with the pianist. As he later mirrored, ‘working with Monk introduced me near a musical architect of the best order. I realized from him in each method.’”
Before I dig in to the additional nuts and bolts behind Craft’s OJC version of Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane, listed here are among the core stats of notice. Originally produced by Riverside Records co-founder Orrin Keepnews in three periods recorded on the label’s New York-based Reeves Sound Studios in 1957, the mono periods had been captured by Jack Higgins, and the stereo tapes had been run by Ray Fowler. (More on that mono/stereo break up in a bit.) This new Craft Recordings OJC reissue was lower in an all-analog mastering course of from the unique tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. The 180g vinyl was pressed at RTI, and the covers are designed in a tip-on model much like the originals, crafted with sturdy cardboard building. The album itself comes housed in an audiophile-grade plastic inner-sleeve, and the SRP is $38.99.
As for the necessity for a reissue like this one, it appears fairly clear this version will fill an vital hole within the vinyl-collecting market. First, take into account that there are new generations of jazz-loving vinyl fanatics, a lot of whom are specifically followers of Monk and Coltrane. Also, not less than partially, we now have already seen how some newer fanatics don’t essentially like shopping for used albums like we do — keep in mind, they’ve grown up listening to mainly noise-free CDs and/or streaming companies — so, until stated LPs are in completely pristine situation, sure of us would quite simply go instantly for the reissue. (I’ve heard this story from a number of used document retailer homeowners, in reality.) This buying observe might help in explaining among the ever-skyrocketing costs as of late for mint-condition classic titles.
As with many of-era jazz, rock, and soul titles, discovering them in nice situation on vinyl is usually a problem. For instance, a present take a look at Discogs exhibits simply 9 originals of Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane in principally VG situation, with asking costs ranging between $40 to $100. Most of them are in mono, as solely two stereo copies had been listed as being obtainable on the time of this posting.
Thankfully, there have been reissues of this album alongside the best way over time, together with a reasonably complete 2LP mid-’70s assortment assembling many of the periods. A 2006 2CD version compiles all of the recognized periods recordings, together with these with false begins. It additionally seems Analogue Productions reissued Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane in 1997, and the take a look at pressings are promoting for upwards of $150 every. The album was additionally issued as a part of the Original Jazz Classics sequence that got here out round 1982, and there’s even a high-quality 2003 SACD model obtainable that I occur to personal as effectively.
The revived OJC reissue sequence is thrilling to think about as a result of, again within the day, it was a welcome breath of recent air returning many classic titles to their rightful place on the cabinets. These had been well-mastered discs pressed on good-quality, standard-weight vinyl, but priced very pretty. Fact is, these authentic ’80s OJCs usually sound nice. The cowl artwork generally left one thing to be desired because it was often printed on skinny oaktag-type card inventory, and the picture high quality was periodically iffy. However, the OJC releases did sometimes recreate period-accurate labels, not less than.
Given the OJC value degree on the time — sometimes promoting for $10, or much less — complaints concerning the packaging had been comparatively minimal. But whenever you fast-forward to the right here and now, a lot of these OJC editions from the Eighties are literally considerably collectible in their very own proper, with a lot of them promoting for $30-50 a pop, relying on the title.
To put together for this assessment, I loved a number of refresher listens to the variations of Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane I’ve in my assortment, together with the 2003 SACD, the 1973 budget-priced two-fer 2LP periods compilation, and an authentic 1961 monaural urgent on the Jazzland Records label. I additionally listened to 2006’s Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane: The Complete Riverside Recordings 2CD set for added background preparation.
In normal, I’m very happy with this new version of Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane. The sound high quality feels a lot fuller, rounder, and richer than that of the SACD model — which is relatively a wee bit brighter. There is some tape flutter obvious on each variations, however it doesn’t really feel fairly as intrusive and/or obvious as on the SACD, most notably on Side 2’s “Epistrophy.” The total taste of the brand new vinyl mastering by Kevin Gray felt excellent, and in step with the unique intent of the recordings. My copy of this new Craft Records OJC LP is dead-quiet by way of disc floor noise. The vinyl is thick, darkish, and, most significantly, well-centered.
All that stated, I need to level out a key element that isn’t instantly clear about this new version. Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane is not introduced totally in stereo — regardless of the labeling on the contrary on the entrance cowl and label. Digging by way of the liner notes for the Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane: The Complete Riverside Recordings 2CD set, I discovered — in teensy tiny sort that was printed black on crimson inventory for additional unreadability (why do designers do issues like this?) — written affirmation that a number of tracks on this album had been solely recorded in monaural. Thus, don’t be shocked whenever you hit that first sonic burst because the stereo tracks kick in right here.
Overall, the brand new version actually sounds extra centered and pure than the 1973 periods LP, one which appears to be introduced principally in mono, and I do very very like the sense of studio presence that comes by way of properly on this new version. The backside line is that this: Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane is important listening. If you’re a fan of both of those artists — or jazz usually, for that matter — then get your self a duplicate of this new Craft Recordings OJC 180g 1LP version right now.
(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has additionally labored in advertising and marketing communications for many years. He has reviewed music for AudiophileReview.com, amongst others, and you may see extra of his spectacular C.V. at LinkedIn.)
THELONIOUS MONK WITH JOHN COLTRANE
180g 1LP (Craft Recordings)
1. Ruby, My Dear
2. Trinkle, Tinkle
3. Off Minor
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