Pete Recommends…The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
When I moved to Hove in 1999 I decided to make my library of jazz recordings more specialised. The first step was to collect most of the recordings of Thelonious Monk. At that time collectors were trying to locate any live recordings he might have made with John Coltrane in 1957. A rather rough recording from the Five Spot soon came to light. Then someone discovered a gem. The Quartet had been recorded at a charity concert at Carnegie Hall on the 29th of November, where they played 2 sets. The quality was excellent, the performance outstanding. It turned out to be one of the very best live recordings of a jazz group. Both sets are fascinating, but the second set, which began at midnight, is exceptional. My favourite track is a wonderful version of “Sweet and Lovely”.
[The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane – at Carnegie Hall was issued by EMI on Blue Note CD 0946 3 35174 2 4]
It was recorded at Thanksgiving Jazz, a benefit concert for the Morningside Community Center in Harlem. The recording, by Voice of America, documents two sets by the Monk Quartet with Coltrane that night – an early set (tracks 1-5) and a late set (tracks 6-9), which the recording does not fully document. The tape was stored at the Library of Congress where it sat untouched, until 2005 when it was discovered by recording lab supervisor Larry Appelbaum. The recording was then restored by producer Michael Cuscuna and T.S. Monk.