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Brilliant Corners
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano, celeste); Ernie Henry (alto saxophone); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Clark Terry (trumpet); Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers (bass); Max Roach (drums, tympani).
  • Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York, New York in December 1956. Originally released on Riverside (226). Includes liner notes by Orrin Keepnews.
  • Digitally remastered by Kirk Felton (1987, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
  • Personnel: Thelonious Monk (piano, celeste); Ernie Henry (alto saxophone); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Clark Terry (trumpet); Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers (bass); Max Roach (drums, tympani).
  • Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York, New York in December 1956. Originally released on Riverside (226). Includes liner notes by Orrin Keepnews.
  • Digitally remastered using 20-bit K2 Super Coding System technology.
  • By the fall of 1956, Riverside was finally primed to unleash Thelonious Monk upon the jazz world--straight, no chaser. Two superb piano trio albums of covers had set the stage for Monk the composer to re-emerge with horns, and the pianist responded with BRILLIANT CORNERS, one of his greatest recordings, featuring three classic new tunes and two formidable studio bands.
  • The Sonny Rollins featured on BRILLIANT CORNERS is a far more imposing presence than the young acolyte of previous Monk sessions--just witness the title tune. With its multiple themes, quirky intervallic leaps, idiomatic rhythmic changes and tricky transitions in tempo, it is one of Monk's masterpieces--a miniature symphony. So daunting were its technical challenges, that the final ending was edited on from another take. Rollins begins his solo with swaggering composure, boldly paraphrasing Monk's vinegary intervals and trademark trills, before navigating the swift rapids of the double-time chorus with deft syncopations. Monk plies dissonance upon dissonance in his first chorus, playing rhythmic tag with Max Roach on the out chorus. Ernie Henry's slip-sliding bluesiness is followed by a brilliant rhythmic edifice from Roach, who maintains melodic coherence at a drowsy tempo, then explodes into the final chorus.
  • Elsewhere, "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are" is a soulful, easygoing blues, and Monk's solo is a compendium of pithy rhythmic devices, bent notes and calculated melodic abstractions, played with enormous relaxation and swing. He concludes with heckling big-band figures that form the basis for Rollins' expressive rhythmic testimonies. Monk employs the bell-like timbre of a celeste to stunning effect on "Pannonica," one of his loveliest melodies and improvisations. And in closing, "Bemsha Swing" is a hard-swinging, conversational performance, with fine contributions from trumpeter Clark Terry, bassist Paul Chambers and Roach on drums and timpani.
Professional Reviews
Down Beat - 5 Stars - Excellent - "...Riverside's most important modern jazz LP to date..."
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