Thelonious Monk – With John Coltrane Jazzland
JLP 946S (1961)
This outtake collection released to cash-in on Coltrane‘s growing fame is pretty decent. It features a nearly ideal selection of tunes from the Monk songbook. And Monk sounds as energized and inspired as ever in his own playing. Coltrane here, as always with Monk, is something of an awkward fit. He alternates between a kind of sentimental romanticism that borders on a kind of maudlin spectacle, and busy “sheets of sound” solos that leave little room for Monk’s compositions. By the time this album was released in 1961, it was clear that Charlie Rouse was a much better fit on saxophone in Monk’s band — or even Johnny Griffin. It’s not like Coltrane is terrible, but he’s not the star either.