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Brilliant Corners

Thelonious Monk

1957

Brilliant Corners
Album Summary

Brilliant Corners is a studio album by American jazz musician Thelonious Monk. It was his third album for Riverside Records, and the first, for this label, to include his own compositions. The complex title track required over a dozen takes in the studio.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.34

Votes

13056

Genres

  • Jazz

Reviews

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Tue Apr 13 2021
5

Excellent jazz. I don't know enough about jazz to say what makes it so great, but I know enough about music to say "I Enjoyed This Album."

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Tue Mar 08 2022
3

Howard: Never do that to a man in a jazz trance. I was deep in the juju then. Vince: Science teachers and the mentally ill, that's all jazz is for. Howard: Take that back you electro ponce. Vince: I hate jazz Howard: You fear jazz

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Wed Jan 12 2022
5

I have heard of Thelonious Monk, but have never listened to an album. What a treat! Honestly, the first few bars of the first track had me concerned that I would be in for a bumpy jazz ride. But shortly into the album I realized that my first impression was incorrect and it was smooth jazz sailing after that. I found myself tapping my foot and bopping my head and imagining sitting in a dimly-lit (smoke-free for my comfort) jazz club enjoying a martini or a single malt whiskey. Just a delight!!

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Thu Apr 01 2021
5

Swanky and stanky. The Picasso of jazz. Rock on Thelonious.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

“Brilliant Corners” by Thelonious Monk (1957) Never heard this album, but I’m marginally familiar with the progressive jazz of Thelonious Monk. These instrumental compositions are intricate and alluring. Monk’s progressions are very accessible to those who are not familiar with New York jazz of the mid-twentieth century. His virtuosity is to be heard in his flourishes, arpeggios, and scales. Melodies on this album seem to exist as a mere framework for jazz riffs, producing a nice 50s bebop feel. A very broad definition of harmony, especially for 1957. Listen for simultaneous adjacent chromatic notes on the celeste on “Pannonia”. They might sound like flubs until one begins to hear the patterns. To get a good taste of Monk’s piano work, check out “I Surrender, Dear” (which I think should have been the opening track, to give the album some forward momentum, but okay . . . ). His technique is accomplished, with crisp execution (perhaps too staccato), but lacking in dynamic variation. Compare with Earl Hines, Oscar Peterson, and Herbie Hancock for a timeline of jazz piano. Monk is not quite in their league, but he’s very good. Saxophonists Sonny Rollins (alto) and Ernie Henry (tenor) unquestionably display talent on this album, even if they are frequently not quite in tune with one another. Several pleasing solo breaks by sax, bass, and drums. This is a fine album, well worth a listen. 4/5

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Sun Sep 26 2021
4

One of the frustrating things about listening to Monk is how difficult it was for him to find sympathetic collaborators. Monk invented an entirely new way of approaching rhythm, harmony and melody that few musicians had either the ability or interest to approach on its own terms. The three that came closest were Coltrane, Art Blakey and Wilbur Ware, none of whom is present on this recording. Monk's rhythmic innovation was to break and subdivide rhythms in unexpected ways, while still maintaining swing. His conception of harmony most likely grew out of what would be considered by most to be a liability, his unusually large fingers, which resulted in what were probably initially unintended chord clusters. Genius that Monk was, he incorporated these clusters into his harmonies and melodies, using puckish humor. The problem is that most collaborators came from a time keeping/ changes background, which Monk had largely broken away from, so there was usually an amusing tension in his music between Monk's intentions and his collaborator's inability to grasp or execute them. Apparently, this came to a head with the title tune, which took 25 unsuccessful takes, after which the producers threw in the towel and just cut together the usable parts. These days, Brilliant Corners doesn't sound particularly difficult or esoteric--I've heard it as background music at Starbucks, for goodness sake! But in 1957, it certainly threw these musicians for a loop. They couldn't execute the head worth a damn and when it came to the solos, they tried to impose conventional logic on Monk's structure, which just sounded silly. While drummer Max Roach takes a conventional approach on the form of the tune, he at least gets into the spirit of the thing on his solo. The more conventional tunes fair better. Sonny Rollins makes a game attempt to follow Monk's logic on Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are and actually tackles both Monkian rhythm and harmony on the lovely ballad Pannonica. So far this isn't reading like a rave, but Brilliant Corners succeeds in spite of its flaws. The songs, while being unconventional, are memorable and hummable, one and all. And Monk's playing is undiluted magic. I'll take half a point off because of the sometimes maladroit accompanists--if only Monk had played more often with sympathetic musicians like Art Blakey, Wilbur Ware, and John Coltrane--but this is still a great album.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
5

This album is incredible. Thelonious is a genius and it’s on full display here. This is the type of album others strive to make. Every track is perfect. But special shoutouts to the opening track (brilliant corners) and the closing track (bemsha swing). This album fits every mood and every emotion. Top tracks Brilliant corners Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are Pannonica I surrender, dear Bemsha Swing

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Sat Aug 07 2021
5

Monk has such a recognizable style on the piano. He sounds clumsy, like he’s mis-hitting the keys. The songs seem to speed up and slow down – sometimes they actually do, as in the title track – but it’s more often the effect of his playing. He’s a great composer and many of his songs have become standards. This is an all-star line-up. I particularly like Sonny Rollins on tenor who is a good replacement for Monk’s go-to guy, Charlie Rouse, who’s timbre I never liked for some reason.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
5

this list has really forced me to listen to some excellent jazz albums, i’ve found a real appreciation for the genre i wouldnt have expected. i still feel like i dont know enough to critically rate jazz, i just sit back and enjoy it. i really sat back and enjoyed this album though.

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Sat Aug 07 2021
4

Brilliant corners is simply a brilliant album. Monk's style may be off putting for some with his crunchy dissonant, off kilter dissonant piano playing, but therein also lies his genius. Allstar band. Highlight for me is Bemsha Swing.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
1

Thank God that's over with. I feel inadequate just saying it, but really, what's it about? It seems to me to be the jazz equivalent of guitar shredding. No doubt technically amazing, but utterly useless to listen to. Music only to those actually playing it. Fret-wanking (or the sax/drum/piano version). Sorry, but the emperor's wearing no clothes.

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Fri Mar 18 2022
5

Monk is a legend, love putting his music on on a lazy Saturday afternoon while reading or cleaning

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Thu Apr 14 2022
5

I love the name of this album because every corner of it that you look at shines like a diamond. A hard bop masterpiece and Monk's most famous record, "Brilliant Corners" is beautiful and complex, showing his ability as a jazz composer focused on unconventional structures and african-american references. It presents an artist at his creative peak, with a band full of great names like drummer Max Roach and tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. An essencial jazz record and an epitome of what jazz was like in the mid 1950s.

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Sat Nov 05 2022
5

Just brilliant. Superlative playing, incredible mood, creativity sparkling off the record, the joy of the feeling is being there to see something birthed into being. Unsurpassed.

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Thu Oct 26 2023
5

I can’t pretend like I have the understanding of music theory or vocabulary to appropriately appreciate jazz, nor is it ever a genre that I go out of my way to listen to. And yet every time I make time to listen to a jazz classic, I wonder why I don’t seek it out more often. Obviously the piano composition is at the forefront here, but I really love the variety of drum techniques used. Favorite song was the title track.

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Sat Aug 07 2021
4

Music from the days when bass and drums had their place, at the back of the stage, and didn't interrupt the main event, which in this case is excellent piano and sax. Sure they pretend to allow bass solos (in Ba-Lue for example) but it's only done as a way to let them get applause specifically directed at them. I'll applaud when I see live jazz and the bass gets the short solo spot but I know, and they know, the applause is really for the work they do the rest if the time keeping the tempo for the principal soloists. The piano and sax work on this album is extraordinary. The title track seems not to follow the mould. There are lots of tempo changes and the parts where the play speeds up must be tricky to pull off. At the end I wouldn't have been surprised if one of them yelled "I got blisters on my fingers" John Lennon style. The drum solo is a little too long for my liking (Some things never change) Listening to I Surrender, Dear makes me wish I could play piano. No instrument can create an all encompassing sound like the piano does and TM hits it out of the park. Pannonica starts like a sound track from a bad movie. To be sure, it picks up with the sax solo. The celeste solo is also cool but only because it's an unusual instrument. It sounds like a xylophone without the speed of play. While interesting, it's best that it does not stay for more than one song since it does not allow the magic that the piano does. Great soloing throughout.

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Fri Feb 05 2021
3

Not a jazz guy (not cultured enough) but pleasant to listen to. Jazz always classes up the joint. 5/10

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

5.0 + An amazing touchstone from 1957 that was years ahead of its time. Hard bop at its finest. Warm and wonderfully off-kilter at every turn.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

Monk is one of if not the most influential and talented jazz pianists of all time. This is a phenomenal album with beautiful song after beautiful song. Definitely jammed to this in high school while studying the greats. A must listen to for any jazz fan. 0 skipped, 2 added.

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Sat Oct 28 2023
5

Cool jazz complexe et mélodique.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
4

What I really love in 1950s jazz is bold, clear melodic lines, and the sense of huge energetic possibility kept just under control at a rolling boil. "Bemsha Swing" has this sound and is great. Some of the other tracks are just a little too chilled out, and piano isn't my favourite jazz instrument anyway. But however you look at it, this is an album of amazing quality. 4*

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Sat Dec 04 2021
4

One's reaction to the piano playing is the key determinant when it comes to Brilliant Corners. The opening number is less than convincing, but establishes the meandering style and the basic form used. That form is best-worked-out during the second, longer cut. Monk provides off-kilter tunes which the band wanders through, in several configurations. It's not obviously dense music, but the ingredients are all there. The rhythm section ties the work together for me, with the double bass standing out as melody.

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Sat Dec 04 2021
4

Dinner party, suits and ties, martinis, and a view of New York City. This is the soundtrack.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
4

It's exciting to finally listen to a renowned artist I've always heard of but never spent time with. This one is hard for me. If I let it float into my subconscious, I enjoy it quite a bit and I ride the ride. If I listen carefully and try to figure out what's going on, I'm perplexed. I struggle with the idea that these are "compositions" (rather than pure improvisations) that I would ever recognize when played by another musician. There seems to be a lack of a melody that my brain can hold on to. They sound like random notes playing, and yet I know they're not. It seems pure "feel" to me, and yet I know there's some sort of structure in there. But as a listener, if I just go with the "feel" it usually feels pretty good. Repeated listening reveals more each time. This is just the beginning of a journey I've never had the patience to take. It's cool.

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Sun Feb 20 2022
4

Genre: Hard Bop 4/5 Jazz. A genre so ubiquitous, and one which still so heavily influences the music of today. Truly, there's no better place to start than one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Thelonious Monk. While he wasn't akin to some of his more avant-garde, free-jazz contemporaries, Monk fits in his lane perfectly, providing technically challenging jazz, so flawlessly played that it sounds close to the sort of smooth jazz you might hear in a shopping mall. (I don't mean that disparagingly!) Overall, this album is full of great trumpet/saxophone playing, well-played, laidback drum AND bass solos, and it's all beautifully choreographed around Monk's brilliant piano playing. Whether they're slowing it down, or whether they're doubling the time of the same song they started slow, this is a great place to start for anybody looking to see if jazz is right for them. Easygoing, accessible, and a joy to listen to.

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Tue Feb 07 2023
4

Brilliant Corners is the 4th record from indie rock legends Pavement. Released in 1997 on the Matador record label, the record marks a move away from the lo-fi recordings that Pavement had become known… Hold on a second. Oops. Brilliant Corners is a Thelonious Monk album. Brighten the Corners is Pavement… Make sense, I thought this version of “Stereo” sounded weird. Well then…Brilliant Corners. I’m not an especially smart guy, as evidenced by the start of this review. I don’t really understand the music theory behind Jazz and, truthfully, I was never very good at math. So if there’s crazy time signatures or avant-garde stuff happening with the playing or instrumentation on this record, well…I’ll have to take your word for it. What I can tell you is that this record seems to have an edge (brilliant corners, if you will) compared to other jazz I’ve heard from this timeframe. It sounds ahead of its time and willing to forego tradition for the sake of experimentation and technical challenge. I dig that. That’s how the world moves forward. Whether or not this was a small step or giant leap forward, I’m not the guy to decide that. Again, I am not that smart or well versed in jazz. I did find this record enjoyable, intriguing and challenging and I think that’s the most you can ask for from any record (and certainly more than I get from a lot of the records on this list).

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Thu Nov 16 2023
3

Whenever I want to feel really dumb I listen to jazz until I can’t stand it anymore, and then read the reviews about how amazing and life changing it was. That was my experience listening to this.

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Tue Oct 26 2021
2

Mr. Monk is surely an accomplished player but 45 minutes of winding, seemingly groove-phobic, saxophone solo is trying at best. I shouldn't have to work this hard to enjoy listening to a record.

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Sat Sep 03 2022
1

Y'all would give an album of somebody throwing pianos down stairs for an hour a global rating of 3.3 if it was released in the 50s and had some dapper looking gentlemen on the cover. And yet "Germ Free Adolescents" sits at a 2.97 global rating. We truly live in a society. Actually, I like Trout Mask Replica so I can't complain too much. Enjoy whatever. It's a free country. 1/5 from me.

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Fri Sep 25 2020
5

Great classic Jazz album. Some songs recognized as samples

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Mon Feb 01 2021
5

Go listen to Pannonica right now.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
5

My favorite jazz album of all time

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

Can’t not give this 5 stars.

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Sat Mar 27 2021
5

Puro jazz, seco y sobrio. Grande.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

1957....Magic, baby. I will never oooh and aahhhh with my semantics or musical terms, but this is beautiful.

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Tue Mar 23 2021
5

(Listened to Before) A formative record for me and maybe one of the best hard bop jazz records in existence. Favorite Tracks: All of em Least Favorite Tracks: Nonexistent

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Tue Jun 29 2021
5

Awesome jazz album! Very cool that it is from '57.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

Хорош, захотел его на пластинке

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

9/10 great jazz, no complaints other than that I would like some more upbeat tracks. but these slow jams are nice too

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Mon Oct 18 2021
5

I could listen to this album all day. Best in class.

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Thu Nov 04 2021
5

damn, man...why do the awesome ones have to be so short? i'm not sure i've ever heard a monk album i didn't come to love. this one didn't take long - the guy was gone, but holy crap could he play.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Can't listen to this without bringing back memories of my grandad.

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

Excellent, a jazz classic and wonderful!

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Mon Nov 15 2021
5

Jazz essentials! Feels like I’m in von maur

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Sat Dec 04 2021
5

Really great example of a great jazz album. Bad jazz is probably the worst music there is but great jazz is the best, and this is undeniably great.

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Tue Mar 08 2022
5

Great jazz album! Easy listening!

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Sun Mar 20 2022
5

Enjoyed listening to this, but was gloss painting so did not give my full attention, but definitely worth another listen.

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

Awesome jazz. Some great solos, very relqxing

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Thu Apr 07 2022
5

Smooooooth. Drums are impeccable.

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Sat Apr 09 2022
5

Brilliant Corners = brilliant music. 5 🌟

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Sat Apr 16 2022
5

Great TM album in every aspect.

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Mon May 16 2022
5

Brilliant Corners is one of the odd ball tunes. Its so spikey and angular, especially in 1957. I love this album just like I love all of Monk's music.

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Thu May 19 2022
5

1957! It is really surprising how this sounds as if it were recorded yesterday. Absolute keeper.

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Sat Jul 09 2022
5

I mean, if you need a jazz album in reserve to play and look cool at that kind of dinner party, this is it.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
5

It’s Monk! 5 stars! Not my personal favourite Thelonious Monk album, but still a bebop classic.

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Mon Aug 15 2022
5

So warm and inviting, and then it just twists your ear around, what a genius, what a pioneer. I'll take more where that came from.

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Thu Aug 25 2022
5

Unreal! The best guitarless jazz i've ever heard (as a guitarist nothing can top Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass for me).

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Tue Sep 13 2022
5

This guy's corners are brilliant.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

Monk really is a king of harmonies and “good-sounding” dissonances. A masterclass album. Plus, Sonny Rollins is on fire ! Love the whole album especially the wonderful blues Ba Lue Bolivar Ba Lues Are.

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Thu Oct 20 2022
5

200th album ;) Not 1st listen, put it on while frying eggs & mushrooms for breakfast. My favourite track is still “Pannonica”, and I appreciate the title track a lot more since doing a Thelonious Monk presentation in high school. October 19th 2022

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Mon Oct 24 2022
5

Fascinating, remarkable, unique...I could go on and on. So much has been written about Thelonious Monk that writing about this artist is just like writing about anyone who reached the incredibly rare heights of their craft: it just all feels kind of cheap when compared to the real thing. This album is incredible. I'm going to listen to it again and again. What an artist.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

Some great Be-Bop on this album, great Sunday Morning music in my opinion. I love "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are" "Brilliant Cornbers" (which is a complex masterpiece in my opinion) and "Pannonica" which is a tribute to the "Jazz Baroness" Kathleen Annie Pannonica De Koenigswarter. In fact I love all the tracks on this album. some great Bass riffs from Oscar Pettiford and also great drumwork from Max Roach. Love it and rightfully on this list.

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Tue Nov 22 2022
5

An interesting album especially as it features Sonnly Rollins alongside Thelonius Monk. Monk's style is experimental and makes good use of accidentals while still holding to a recognizable jazz format. A great hard bop album with very interesting changes. I see why a mentorship under Monk was a bit like being stuck in a crucible. The result is undeniable though

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Mon Dec 19 2022
5

Excellent. I love Thelonious Monk but this was my first time for this album. Monk’s playing is fantastic and the whole band is in sync with his off-kilter, stop-and-start style. Really fun to hear them play around the melody. I love in a live jazz performance when you hear the applause after a solo. This is a studio recording but some of these solos are so good, it feels wrong not to hear clapping after them. I found myself quietly applauding a bunch while listening on headphones.

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Tue Dec 20 2022
5

love it!!!!!!! fijne studeermuziek maar ook leuk om aandachtig naar te luisteren

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Sat Dec 24 2022
5

If at first the music seems too discordant and harsh, don’t be deceived. There’s a method to Monk’s madness, and soon the beauty and complexity of each track unfolds in a dazzling display.

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Fri Jan 13 2023
5

I mean, this is amazing. Duh! The opening track, Brilliant Corners, is jaw dropping. The rest is perfect for weekend afternoon mellow chilling out vibes.

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Wed Jan 18 2023
5

Some great jazz. Nothing more to say.

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Thu Feb 09 2023
5

"Brilliant Corners" is a studio album by American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his third for Riverside Records, the first with his own compositions. It was recorded in three sessions and two different quintets. The music is categorized as hard bop which is a subgenre of jazz and an extension of bebop with influences of R&B, gospel and blues. Critics described this as Monk's peak along with "Misrerioso" and "the alpha and omega of post-WWII American jazz." In 2003, it was added to National Recording Registry and also to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The self-titled "Brilliant Corners" begins the album. It famously took 26 takes to complete due to its unconventional song structure and complex rhythm. Yes, this goes slow then speeds up and back again. Piano starts it off. Ernie Henry on alto sax and Sonny Rollins in tenor sax join in. It is brilliant. "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are" refers to the Bolivar Hotel where Monk met British jazz patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Described as riff-based blues. Max Roach with killer drums. We get a bass and a drum solo near the end. Monk plays a distinctive celeste piano in "Pannonica" sounding high-pitched and like a xylophone. The piano is appropriately named as it does sound like a twinkling star. Another dedicated to Baroness Pannonica. "I Surrender" was a song written by Harris Barris and performed by Bing Crosby in 1931. This version is all Monk on piano. "Bemsha Swing" closes the album and is dedicated to Monk's parents who were born in Barbados. Clark Terry on trumpet gives this song a nice change of pace. This is an outstanding album with some musicians being one of the best if not the best musicians in jazz and music history. It is a joy to listen to. Even with its complexities it's smooth. An album every jazz and music fan needs to listen to.

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Tue Mar 07 2023
5

This is Thelonious Monk, therefore it gets five stars.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
5

Monk is always five stars for me. Always has been, always will be. The music is always on point but more than that? The covers are ALWAYS on point.

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Wed May 03 2023
5

I appreciate this as a musician. it seems like a master class in tone and instrumentation. I hear stories in the notes.

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Fri Jun 16 2023
5

This is my favorite Thelonious Monk album. It has his characteristic style of being elegant and beautiful while bringing weird tension when he chooses to. I love the exuberance of Bemsha Swing 5/5

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Sat Jun 24 2023
5

I very much enjoyed Thelonious Monk & often listen to him when I'm in a jazzy mood. 4.5 stars

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Thu Jun 29 2023
5

Solidly executed jazz album that I can see myself throwing on randomly for ambiance.

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Mon Jul 24 2023
5

Great album from one of the all time best, It's really all about the title track, an amazing piece of music. I rarely have rated based on a single song but in that case I'm bumping to 5 stars, the rest of the album is good, there's much more consistent albums of his out there, hopefully we get at least one more.

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