Blue Note Snags Monk/Coltrane Rarity
Blue Note Records has emerged the triumphant owner of a 1957 recording by the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, trumping the interest of Sony BMG's Legacy Recordings and Verve Records.Blue Note Records has emerged the triumphant owner of a 1957 recording by the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, trumping the interest of Sony BMG's Legacy Recordings and Verve Records. The tentatively titled "Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane: 1957 Concert" is due Sept. 27.
Jazz specialist Larry Appelbaum uncovered the coveted musical relic in January at the Library of Congress. Negotiations for commercial release rights were completed June 13. "This is one of the most important discoveries in jazz ever," Blue Note president/CEO Bruce Lundvall says. "We're thrilled to have it."
Jazz historian and Blue Note consultant Michael Cuscuna calls the find "unbelievable" because Coltrane and Monk only played together for six months. "For decades people have speculated on how the group sounded after they developed," Cuscuna says. "But all you had until now was an oral history."
Riverside Records released three tracks from "Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane" in 1957. The only other known release was an amateur recording of a 40-minute club set at the Five Spot in New York's East Village, released on Blue Note in 1993 as "Live at the Five Spot -- Discovery!"
Lundvall calls the sound quality of previous recordings "subpar" compared with "1957 Concert," which was recorded by the international broadcasting service Voice of America during a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. Alan Bergman, a lawyer for the Monk estate, says there are negotiations in progress for the rights to use the concert hall's name in the title.
The album will be released jointly by Blue Note and Thelonious Records, which is owned by the jazz legend's son, T.S. Monk, who was a Blue Note recording artist in the 1990s.
Bergman says Blue Note's longstanding relationship with the Monk family was a factor in the label's selection by the Coltrane and Monk estates, which have equal rights to the recording. Blue Note also owns existing catalog of early Thelonious Monk recordings.
"Blue Note is a label committed to jazz, and they seemed like a good fit," Bergman says. "The EMI International structure is important to us, as this project will be important on a worldwide basis."
Cuscuna's Mosaic, a direct mail jazz reissue label, expects to release the recording on vinyl in October.