Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1: #737 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Thelonious Monk - Genius of Modern Music Vol 1

Why is Thelonious Monk’s Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Perfect jazz listening ‘round midnight – and into the wee hours, too.

Some stats & info about Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1

Thelonious Monk’s Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.

What does Thelonious Monk’s Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

The short review of this album on All Music does a great job of calling out the many things that add up to make it one of the best jazz records I’ve ever heard: “angularity and technical difficulty,” “strange, sideways chord progressions,” “bouncy and cheerful but melodically cockeyed.”

While listening to “Misterioso,” I think about how this is also perhaps the most “challenging” jazz record that I also deeply enjoy. By challenging I mean jazz music that’s more experimental in nature, more likely to branch off from a standard chord progression and fly off in wild directions. I think there’s something about Thelonious Monk’s clear mastery of the form that allows him to produce music that’s both “standard” and “experimental,” sometimes at the same time.

I had a back-and-forth e-mail exchange with my old friend Dan recently – an accomplished percussionist and musician in his own right – where I expressed that I have a much better facility to write about rock and other genres of music versus jazz. I probably started exploring in any kinds of a serious way much later in life (in my 30s, perhaps) versus any other major form of music. And so therefore I feel – and perhaps will always feel – that talking and writing about jazz is akin to talking and writing about musical genres.

But I know what I like, and I’m proud to include selections such as this Thelonious Monk collection that greatly benefit and honor the best 1,000 albums ever.

And I also know how Monk’s music makes me feel. Songs like “’Round Midnight” and “Ruby My Dear” put me in the mid of sitting in the back of a small music venue in the wee hours. The place has started to empty but still maintains an audience eager to get into this very specific mood, this frame of mind to hear these lovely, relaxed yet exquisitely technical songs. Cocktail at my side but not looking to get drunk; looking to dig the mood.