Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker|Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane 

Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945|At Carnegie Hall

As far as jazz fans are concerned, Ira Gitler's liner notes don't exaggerate when he compares the recent discovery of a recorded 1945 Gillespie-Parker concert to the unearthing of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922. After all, the two most significant figures in early modern jazz history didn't record together that often, and the few times they did always produced great music. The balance of competitive tension and healthy respect between the mercurial Parker and the flamboyant-yet-savvy Gillespie never allowed either to bring anything but his best to the table when they worked together. The sound quality for this long-buried treasure is excellent, the music spectacular.

But what comparison will possibly serve for the miraculous music recorded by the Thelonious Monk Quartet at Carnegie Hall in 1957, unheard until now? Paradise regained? There was a time when this short-lived quartet was feared to have gone unrecorded, before Riverside belatedly issued three fantastic studio tracks. Then in 1993, Blue Note released a live, lo-fi recording. That's all essential music, but this newly released concert is even better, capturing John Coltrane in full flight toward greatness and Monk at his absolute peak. The interplay between the two principles on "Monk's Mood" must be heard to be believed. This is merely the greatest recording by the greatest jazz quartet of all time: If that leaves you with great expectations, expect them to be surpassed.


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