Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk (1965), 8/10

Solo Monk is uniquely special in Monk's discography and functions as a pure display of how he could own the keys and turn out some seriously creative interpretations of melody, both in the form of his own compositions and in standards. Not to mention it is just a simple joy to listen to the man play, solo or not. We heard Monk play solo before on Thelonious Himself, but this iteration shows a maturity in style that benefits from his experience playing with some of the best musicians in jazz over the years. Monk is playful as ever and contorts these melodies to their absolute maximum potential. Monk's playing style benefits from this intimate recording style as you can feel his energy flow straight into you through each tune. Solo Monk surpasses all of his chamber work in movement and in tonality. It is a much more widely palatable release than I particularly am drawn to but its charm is undeniable. The artwork provides insight into the tone and intentionality behind the sentimental tunes and Monk provides this retrospection both in the melody selection and in his use of space. One of the most freely performed and simply natural, personally fitting recordings of a jazz pianist in his prime.