There are a lot of things that make Monk (released on the Prestige label) a classic date.
Let’s start with the tunes. With the exception of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, they’re all written by Monk, and every last one is a gem.
For that matter, Monk’s rendition of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is so radically different from the Platters’ version, it might as well be a different tune. Monk plays up the rhythmic displacement and minor second dissonances to puncture the melodrama of the tune, somehow not only making it funny, but far more moving than the original.
Let’s Call This is a masterful example of using weak chord resolutions to create suspense.
Think of One demonstrates Monk’s ability to use a minimum of notes to sculpt a memorable melody.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Monk is like a master class in Monk’s composing strategies.
And then there’s the band. Monk himself is in tremendous form. He’s never been sharper or more witty.
He was probably inspired by Art Blakey, the ideal drummer for Monk. He understands Monk’s rhythms, and he adds wonderful touches of his own that complement Monk’s approach. Check out his fills on We See for evidence.
Monk is short at 33 minutes, but it’s sweet.