This 15-disc (or 22-LP) set presents the entire existing output of the 30 occasions—studio sessions, plus club and concert location taping—on which Thelonious Monk recorded for Riverside. Covering the six-year span between 1955 and 1961 during which Thelonious first gained wide recognition, and regarded by many as his most vital creative period, it offers a striking sound picture of one of the most significant (and most colorful) figures in the entire history of jazz.
Presented here in chronological order are 153 performances, including some partial takes and in-studio conversation that add to this unique portrait of genius in action. Altogether, there are 14 previously unissued items, including two selections recorded at the Five Spot and a legendary abandoned session with drummer Shelly Manne.
The collections runs a gamut from unaccompanied solos to Monk’s celebrated 1959 orchestra concert at Town Hall, with a total supporting cast that features many of the most important jazz artists of our time, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Max Roach, Clark Terry, Thad Jones, Charlie Rouse, Johnny Griffin, and Wilbur Ware.
With a booklet offering rare photographs, complete discographical information, and personal commentary on Thelonious and on each session by Orrin Keepnews, noted producer of the original recordings, who also researched and assembled this compilation.
(In the period of time between the original release of this set in album form and the issuance of the Compact Disc version, an important new element was added: THELONIOUS MONK: The Complete Riverside Recordings was presented, for the year covering 1987, with two Grammys—Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.)