MonkGroupShot Gottlieb

(From left) Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, and Teddy Hill, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb.

Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk's first sessions as a bandleader were recorded between 1947 and 1952, and released on Blue Note Records as a series of 78 RPM singles.

These singles were then compiled in later years, with additional performances from the sessions, into LP album formats.

As Monk's reputation and fame grew, the sessions were recompiled again and again into more complete configurations.

In more recent years, they have been converted to digital formats, and undergone some modern cleaning and noise reduction to bring out the maximum fidelity of the original recordings, some of which were made in very primitive conditions.

That conversion, like many of the digital updates, has met with its own controversy, with many purists preferring the LPs, imperfections and all, to the scientifically true.

Blue Note Records (1948-1952)Edit

The Blue Note SessionsEdit

The Blue Note recordings were made over the course of six sessions. "Versions" refers only to the number of eventually-released performances; other takes may have been recorded.
All compositions by Thelonious Monk unless otherwise noted.

Session 1: October 15, 1947Edit

1. "Humph"

2. "Evonce" (Idrees Sulieman, Ike Quebec) [2 versions]

3. "Suburban Eyes" (Ike Quebec) [2 versions]

4. "Thelonious"


Thelonious Monk - piano, Art Blakey - drums, Gene Ramey - bass, Idrees Sulieman - trumpet, Danny Quebec West - alto saxophone, Billy Smith - tenor saxophone

Session 2: October 24, 1947Edit

5. "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (George Gershwin) [2 versions]

Ira Gershwin wrote lyrics for this song, but these recordings are instrumental.

6. "Ruby My Dear" [2 versions]

7. "Well You Needn't" [2 versions]

8. "April in Paris" (Vernon Duke) [2 versions]

Yip Harburg wrote lyrics for this song, but these recordings are instrumental.

9. "Off Minor"

10. "Introspection"

Thelonious Monk - piano, Art Blakey - drums, Gene Ramey - bass, George Taitt - trumpet,

Session 3: November 21, 1947Edit

11. "In Walked Bud"
12. "Monk's Mood"

13. "Who Knows? [2 versions]" 14. "'Round Midnight"

Thelonious Monk - piano, Art Blakey - drums, Bob Paige - bass, Kenny Dorham - trumpet, Sahib Shihab - alto saxophone, Kenny "Pancho" Hagood - vocals (Songs 19 & 20)

Session 4: July 2, 1948Edit

15. "Evidence"
16. "Misterioso" [2 versions]

17. "Epistrophy" (Thelonius Monk, Kenny Clarke)

18. "I Mean You"

19. "All the Things You Are" (Jerome Kern)

Oscar Hammerstein II wrote lyrics for this song, but this recording is instrumental.
20. "I Should Care" (Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston) [2 versions]
Thelonious Monk - piano, Shadow Wilson - drums, John Simmons - bass, Milt Jackson - vibraphone,

Session 5: July 23, 1951Edit

21. "Four in One" [2 versions]
22. "Criss Cross" [2 versions]

23. "Eronel" (Thelonious Monk, Idrees Sulieman, Sadik Hakim)

24. "Straight, No Chaser"

25. "Ask Me Now" [2 versions]

26. "Willow Weep for Me" (Ann Ronnell)
Thelonious Monk - piano, Art Blakey - drums, Al McKibbon - bass, Milt Jackson - vibraphone, Sahib Shihab - alto saxophone

Session 6: May 30, 1952Edit

27. "Skippy" [2 versions]
28. "Hornin' In" [2 versions]

29. "Sixteen" [2 versions]

30. "Carolina Moon" (Benny Davis, Joe Burke)

31. "Let's Cool One"

32. "I'll Follow You" (Fred E. Ahlert)

* Roy Turk wrote lyrics for this song, but this recording is instrumental.
Thelonious Monk - piano, Max Roach - drums, Nelson Boyd - bass, Lou Donaldson - alto saxophone, Lucky Thompson - tenor saxophone

Prestige Records (1952-1954)Edit

Riverside Records (1955-1961)Edit

  • Thelonious Monk plays the Music of Duke Ellington (1955)
  • The Unique Thelonious Monk (1955)
  • Brilliant Corners (1956 recording with Sonny Rollins and Clark Terry)
  • Thelonious Himself (1957)
  • Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1957 recordings, 1961 issue)

Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.[19]

  • Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk (Atlantic, 1957)
  • Monk's Music (1957)
  • Mulligan Meets Monk (1957, with Gerry Mulligan)
  • Thelonious Monk Quartet Live at the Five Spot: Discovery! (w/ John Coltrane, recorded 1957, released in the 1990s on Blue Note)
  • Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (1957, released 2005 on Blue Note.)
  • The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (2006 collection of the 1957 studio recordings with Coltrane)
  • Thelonious in Action and Misterioso (1958, live at the Five Spot with Johnny Griffin)
  • The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (1959, Charlie Rouse joined the band then)
  • 5 by Monk by 5 (1959)
  • Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (1959)
  • Thelonious Monk and the Jazz Giants (1959)
  • Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk (1960, with Charlie Rouse)
  • Monk in France (1961)
  • Thelonious Monk in Italy (recorded 1961)

Concert (France)Edit

  • Thelonious Monk Nonet Live In Paris 1967 (France's Concert LP FC-113, 1967)

Columbia Records (1962-1968)Edit

  • Monk's Dream (1962)
  • Criss Cross (1962)
  • Monk in Tokyo (1963)
  • Miles & Monk at Newport (1963, with unrelated 1958 Miles Davis performance)
  • Big Band and Quartet in Concert (1963)
  • It's Monk's Time (1964)
  • Monk (1964)
  • Solo Monk (1964)
  • Live at the It Club (1964)
  • Live at the Jazz Workshop (1964)
  • Straight, No Chaser (1966)
  • Underground (1967)
  • Monk's Blues (1968)

As A SidemanEdit

Monk played as a sideman with numerous artists.

With Coleman HawkinsEdit

  • Bean and the Boys (Prestige 7824) 1944

With Miles DavisEdit

  • Bags' Groove (Prestige, 1954)
  • Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (Prestige, 1954)

With Sonny RollinsEdit

  • Moving Out (Prestige 7058) 1954 (on one track)
  • Sonny Rollins, Vol. 2 (Blue Note, 1957)

With Gigi GryceEdit

  • Nica's Tempo (Savoy, 1955)

With Clark TerryEdit

  • In Orbit (Riverside, 1958)


  • Monk's Greatest Hits (1968)
  • April in Paris (Monk album)|April in Paris (1981 2-LP set of the 18 April 1961 Paris recordings)
  • Monk's Classic Recordings (1983)
  • Blues Five Spot (1984, unissued recordings from 1958–61, with various saxophonists and Thad Jones, cornet)
  • Live at Monterey Jazz Festival '63 (sept. 21-2, 1963, MFSL, 2 vols. issued 1996-7 )
  • Something in Blue, Nice Work in London, Blue Sphere and The Man I Love (all 1971 recordings, collected in The London Collection 1988, three CDs)
  • Midnight at Minton's (c.1941, issued 1973 under Don Byas' name. Monk does not play on all tracks of this or the other two CDs of 1941 material)
  • After Hours (1973 album)|After Hours (c.1941, issued 1973 under Charlie Christian's name)
  • After Hours in Harlem c.1941, issued 1973 under Hot Lips Page's name
  • The Complete Prestige Recordings of Thelonious Monk (2000, 3 CD, Prestige)
  • The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk (1994, 4 CD, Blue Note)
  • The Complete Riverside Recordings of Thelonious Monk (1991, 15 CD, Riverside)
  • Monk Alone: The Complete Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk 1962-1968 (1998, 2 CD, Sony)
  • The London Collection (1988, 3 CD)
  • The Columbia Years: '62-'68 (2001, 3 CD, Sony)
  • The Complete Vogue Recordings/The Black Lion Sessions (1954–71) (3LP, Mosaic)

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