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For Labor Day: “Work”

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The admonition above may seem contradictory, since Labor Day was designed to honor those who labor by giving them the day off. We presume that workers in the US and in Canada (where this is Labour Day), are observing the intent with picnics, ball games, jugs of lemonade and family festivities of all kinds. It is unlikely that Thelonious Monk had Labor Day in mind when he composed “Work” for his first Prestige recording session. But for our purposes, let’s say that Monk intended this ingenious melody as a tribute to working men and women everywhere. Monk, bassist Gary Mapp and drummer Art Blakey recorded the piece on October 15, 1952. Let’s listen to it together on Labor Day, 2018. (Despite the cover information, Sonny Rollins does not appear on this track.)

The complete collection of Monk’s Prestige recordings has been released in this 3-CD box.

Happy Labor Day to all Rifftides Readers.

Thelonious Monk: The Complete Prestige Recordings

Any Monk collection without the Prestige dates is missing the pianist’s early partnership with Art Blakey, who is considered by many musicians and critics to have been Monk’s ideal drummer. As mentioned above of their recording of Monk’s composition “Work,” this set captures the two collaborating in the Monk staples “Little Rootie Tootie,” “Bye-Ya,” and “Monk’s Dream.” The box also contains classic Monk recordings with Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, French horn master Julius Watkins, drummer Max Roach and bassist Percy Heath, among others. A highlight among highlights: Monk’s unaccompanied, determined, piano solo on “Just A Gigolo.” The informative liner notes by Peter Keepnews are a bonus. The Prestige Monk box is a basic collectors item.

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This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

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