by Paul Burmeister

Where to begin choosing a favorite? Monk’s extensive discography has been exhaustively examined and rated. I own plenty of albums and CDs from this jazz icon. And there’s one disc I would include in a desert-island collection: Monk. on Columbia, from 1964. This recording is the first of his later quartet including Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales, and Ben Riley. What keeps me smiling through listenings close or distracted is the program and its pacing. “Pannonica” is here (two takes), and so is the wonderful, odd “Children’s Song (That Old Man),” and so is a beautiful solo “I Love You (Sweetheart of all My Dreams).” All selections are taken at natural tempos, and the transition from one to the next is satisfying. I think this might be the disc I recommend to the inexperienced listener. The vinyl and CD covers can be different; look for CL2291 (vinyl) or CK86564 (CD.)