Craft Recordings will release a limited-edition box set that includes all five of the 10-inch vinyl LPs Thelonious Monk: Video

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The 10-inch vinyl LP is relatively rare nowadays, but fans of the format—and of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk—will want to seek out a forthcoming box set with five such platters.

Craft Recordings, the catalog division of Concord Music, will release The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection on Dec. 15. The limited-edition box set includes all five of the 10-inch vinyl LPs that Monk (1917–’82) recorded for the label, spanning the period 1952–’54. The set includes a booklet with new liner notes by Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.

In the early ’50s, Monk was struggling to find critical and commercial acceptance. In his liner notes, Kelley refers to this era as the “golden years in terms of [Monk’s] creative output” but, he adds, “these were also dark times.” Following an unjust run-in with the law, the jazz musician’s cabaret card was revoked, preventing him from performing at New York clubs, and restricting his income.

Monk’s fortune began to change, though, in 1952, when Prestige Records’ founder Bob Weinstock offered him a recording contract.

Weeks later, the Thelonious Monk Trio—consisting of drummer Art Blakey (as well as Max Roach on select tracks) and bassist Gary Mapp—went to work in the studio, with a young Ira Gitler as producer. The resulting 10-inch LP release was titled Thelonious.

By the fall of 1953, Monk returned to the studio, this time with a quintet, for Thelonious Monk Quintet Blows For LP, featuring Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone. Thelonious Monk Quintet and Thelonious Plays followed in 1954.

In the final 10-inch LP in this collection, recorded in October 1954, Monk was actually a last-minute replacement for Elmo Hope at a Sonny Rollins session. But he ultimately received co-billing on the resultant 10-inch LP release, Sonny Rollins And Thelonious Monk. Also produced by Gitler, the LP includes an 11-minute jam of Vincent Youmans’ “More Than You Know” which, Kelley describes as “the session’s masterpiece, a sublime dialogue between two great masters of modern music.”

Audio for the box set was restored and remastered by Joe Tarantino from the original analog tapes, with lacquer cutting by George Horn and Anne-Marie Seunram at Fantasy Studios.

“Listening to these tracks more than 60 years after they were recorded, it’s stunning how compelling, modern and original Monk’s music still sounds, even through the filter of 21st-century ears,” observed the collection’s producer, Nick Phillips. “That’s the mark of a true musical genius, indeed.”

The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection will also be released in high-resolution and standard audio formats across all streaming and digital platforms.

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