Blue Note this week unveils the first official release of a coveted 1957 concert document featuring jazz legends Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. The source material for "Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" was uncovered by jazz specialist Larry Appelbaum uncovered in January at the Library of Congress.
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 the new version, which was recorded by the international broadcasting service Voice of America. Having just kicked his heroin addiction, Coltrane displays playful clarity, but it is Monk, with his cabaret card recently reinstated, who is the hands-down star. He's elated and, as usual, unpredictably quirky in his leads and comps, especially on "Blue Monk" and "Epistrophy."